Weather So Still, an Atmosphere So Dynamic, and Beginning a 28 Hour Journey

A 28 hour journey to Tromsø, Norway begins for Morgan and I in just a couple hours. Just enough time to change camera bags, throw my thermals into my backpack, blog photos from the last few hours, and get to the airport for a 6:05am flight. We’ll arrive in Norway some day and a half later, capping two nights without any sleep, to go straight into the countryside to chase the lights with good friend Kjetil, who I last saw some eight and a half years ago.

But on a night in Yellowknife when you would think I would just be eager to get going on the trip to Norway, there was a beautiful calm about the experience. The weather was so still, so crisp and clear, and yet our upper atmosphere filled with pinks and dances like you cannot imagine. It was perfect.

I won’t have my laptop in Norway these next couple weeks, but I may give blogging from my iPhone a try should we be lucky enough to have some nights with the aurora there. Otherwise I will fill this space when I’m back home toward the end of the month.

Thank you for the beautiful autumn, my loves. xoxo.

Sean NormanOctober
Reflection Season Lives to See Another Day

When we’re consistently reaching the negative teens overnight, all the reflections are off ice these days. And with no significant snowfall since freeze up began, apparently today, ice skating was a popular daytime activity on the lakes in town. These folks are braver than I.

And tonight, if somehow the noise from the lakes freezing up didn’t send shivers up and down your spine, then auroral activity like this would have.

Sean NormanOctober
A Warning, Snowbanks, and the Temperature Drop

A notice from the Department of Transportation the other day warned drivers of ice and snow accumulation on the highway between Behchoko and Yellowknife. A little overzealous I thought for the few remaining centimetre or two that sparsely covered only areas of shade around town. Fast forward some twenty kilometres into the countryside there are legitimate snowbanks on either side of the highway. Well that changed accessible locations for night. So there we were just off the side of the highway, trudging through some 30-40cm of snow covering the countryside, in -16. Guess who wasn’t dressed and prepared for that?
Let’s just say all eight of us.

But the glow of light off the snow covered landscape as the aurora danced all across the sky some hours after we arrived was the most amazing feeling. It was a new feeling this season, that crunch of snow under our feet, some hoar frost on every weed and small bush being illuminated by passing car lights. It was the complete winter wonderland, and it’s going to be a very, very good winter.

Sean NormanOctober
Hopefulness All Day

All day I watched as some colder cloud moved down and over Yellowknife exposing just trace amounts of scattered cloud and clear sky far to the north. But 15 minutes by 15 minutes, it kept up, and as nightfall came to Yellowknife, so did those pockets of clear skies. The sky clarity wasn’t spectacular, but for a night labelled with a few centimetre snowfall, this was perfect.

Sean NormanOctober
You'll Never Believe It

“It’s really unbelievable” I said at one point last night some time after the skies were continuing to clear. I meant it about the aurora of course, but I jokingly not jokingly meant it more about there being clear skies. Magic.

Sean NormanOctober
Something to Blog About

It was a moonless, mostly cloudless beginning to our night. Some change from the awkward silence around this blog lately, which you know equates to something just a little bit less than clear skies. So tonight we’re back, far from perfection, but we’re back. And the overnight forecasts for as long as Environment Canada will show us - clear skies. Let’s go. Cautiously.

Sean NormanOctober
Potential Delusion

I’m not sure if it’s the month and a half to two months of some of the most challenging autumn aurora season weather in four years for me, or if it’s the genuine exhilaration of getting to some baby clear breaks after a long, fairly ominous drive out of town, but I loved this. I loved the clear breaks, the sight of some aurora through broken cloud and optimism of further clear breaks on the horizon. It was good.

Sean NormanSeptember
Sweet Surrender

Finally. September has been exhausting. But finally after a day of blizzards, breaks of sun, and broken cloud cover, the clouds gave it up for a few hours with the exact right timing. More of this please.

Sean NormanSeptember

It’s 10pm, we’re trying to get far out of town to less cloud, and almost immediately above us the sky opens to stars everywhere. So we have no choice but to find the nearest driveway off the highway for a few minutes, and unfortunately the clear sky passes quickly, cloud again eats away at the aurora, and we continue on. It wasn’t a perfect night, but the aurora did break back through for a little dance.

Sean NormanSeptember
190 Kilometres for Nothing

The additional 190 kilometres from where we ended up at 2am yesterday shouldn’t have been for nothing. It should have been everything. But, and I know you’ll be surprised, all our clear breaks forming at the northwest disappeared in about the hour and a half it took us to get up as far north as the highway would take us. So we followed clear breaks sitting some 40km off the highway almost all the way back to town where finally they began intersecting with the highway. Again, miraculously, the timing was about perfect.

Sean NormanSeptember