A grassy, snowless, competition slope is seen in Levi, Finland, 4 November 2011. World Cup Alpine skiing races were moved to Austria because of the lack of snow. Janne Koskenniemi  /  AP

STOCKHOLM, November 24 (AP) – For some reason, Scandinavia is not its frigid self, with unusually warm weather delaying the onset of winter in northern latitudes normally decked in white.

The lack of snow has been bad news for winter sports — World Cup ski races have been dropped, or held on artificial snow, and mountain ski resorts are unable to open.

There are even reports of bird song and blooming gardens in some places typically entering the winter freeze at this time of year.

"Some flowers, like roses, have actually begun to blossom for a second time," said Mats Rosenberg, a biologist in Orebro, south-central Sweden.

Weather experts say this fall is on track to become one of the warmest on record in the northern part of Scandinavia, where the start of winter has been delayed by more than a month in certain locations.

In the Finnish town of Sodankyla, north of the Arctic Circle, snow cover started Nov. 17, the latest date in 100 years, said Pauli Jokinen, spokesman at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Animals — such as stoats, hares and willow grouse — that change color with the season turned white weeks before the snows came, bringing an eerie feeling to the snowless wilds of Lapland.

"It was really very weird — ghost-like white figures darting among the yellow leaves and lichen," said Viljo Pesonen, mayor of the town of 9,000.

"They don't go by the weather conditions, time determines when they turn white. It has also made the place much darker as there has been no snow to lighten the shortening days," he said, adding that heavy rain during the day had already cleared fields of snow. […]

According to Sweden's meteorological office SMHI, the average temperature measured for November so far is 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) above average. […]

Snowless Scandinavians wonder 'where's winter?'



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