Photo: Heading to Haukland beach on winter roads, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Feb 6, 2012. 8:57
This week’s photo is more for illustrative purposes than of something scenic. With more and more people planning on visiting the islands in winter, it can be a bit of a shock to drive on the roads for the first time, especially if you are like me, and grew up in a temperate climate.
While my experience on the European continent is that they tend to keep roads snow free in winter, either by plow or grit, in Lofoten, this is not overly practical. In big storms, the roads are cleared of deep snow and snow drifts, but overall, there always remains a layer of snow and ice covering any asphalt. To deal with these conditions, the Norwegians (and Swedes) utilize studded tires from November to April.
While not like driving on dry asphalt, the studded tires work amazingly well. In my estimate, I would say they retain about 70% the traction level of normal tires on dry conditions. For road conditions like in this photo, you can more or less drive normally (but be weary on sharp turns).
Where driving conditions become dangerous is when the temperatures warm to 2-6 degrees above freezing and it begins to rain. This turns all the hard, compacted snow of the roads into a layer of wet ice. Scary and slippery! The road plows are good at dealing with this and will have the main roads gritted and ice free within a few hours. But I would suggest minimizing your driving during this period if possible. I have gotten stuck a few times where I pulled down into an icy parking area and was unable to drive back out without considerable effort on my part to clear away enough ice to get a bit of momentum built up.
Nikon 16-35mm f/4