WEATHER AND HIKING SEASON
Concerning the weather in Northern Sweden, almost anything seems to be possible, and we have experienced some of it. In the hiking areas about 250 km north of the Polar Circle, 10 cm of snow in August are possible, as well as a rainy day at temperatures above zero in December, when you want to go skiing. And there are local differences. Abisko is in the shadow of the coastal mountains and has less precipitation than Frankfurt, Germany. Riksgränsen at the Swedish - Norwegian border has the highest precipitations in Sweden. At the IRF (Institute for Space Physics) near Kiruna, temperatures are measured since 1996. The extremes until 2000 were -41.8 °C at January 27, 1999, and +27.9 °C at June 6, 1997. That might show the possible variations.
The STF commented that many tourists were deterred by reports about bad weather in the northern part of Sweden in the summer of 2000. But, the Swedish province Norbotten itself has a lenght of 1000 km, and in the northern part of Norrbotten, the weather had not been so bad at all. Continuous bad weather is not so probable, but it can happen, as this drawing in the guestbook of Kebnekaise Fjällstation from the summer of 1996 shows for the 5-day-prediction.
When you are planning a tour, you can take the official opening times of the cabins as the main season. Most of the cabins open in the end of June and close in the beginning of September. The absolute main season is roughly from July, 10 to August, 15, and the accomodation fees for the cabins are at the highest lives during this time.
You can do tours before and after main season, but the conditions might be worse, and it is up to you to take that into account. Before main season, the snow is melting and rivers can be higher. On the marked tr Außerhalb der Saison sind fast alle Risiken höher als in der Hauptsaison. Ende Juni 2000 z.B. gab es durch Schneeschmelze und Regen ein solches Hochwasser, daß Wanderer auf dem Padjelantaleden ausgeflogen werden mußten.ails you will have bridges normally, so that might be not so important, perhaps. Buses may operate less frequent. Transport across lakes might be unavailable. In the STF cabins, one room is open all the year, so that you can stay, but out of season, there are no provisions available, there might be no gas for cooking, and it might happen that you cannot heat the room, because there is no wood available.
We often chose the time short before or after main season. We were on the Padjelantaleden at the end of June and still had some snow fields, but they were not difficult. Waters are higher at that time. We usually avoid to go during the second half of July, because it is not only the main holiday season, but also the main season for mosquitos. We hiked Saltoluokta - Kvikkjokk at the end of August and the beginning of September, we could can enjoy autumn colors and the air is cool and clear. It was really fine at that time, but it might get cold, of course, and the bus connections are not so good as during main season. For the Sarek Park, in my opinion, the time around August 10 to mid of August is the best time to start a hike.
However, conditions may vary from year to year, and during our hike in Vistasvagge at the end of June 2001, hikers were flewn out with a helicopter from Padjelantaleden, because bridges had been destroyed, while we had no problems in Vistavagge in the Kebnekaise area. It is always good to take into account what the local people say about special conditions on the trails.
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", that is the text of a Bob Dylan song. One cannot change the present weather, but it alway good to know how the weather will develop. The fjällstations receive a daily weather fax with a five-day - forecast, but sometimes, it is not very reliable. You can ask the stugvärd in the cabins, but not all of them have radio reception. If you have an instrument, you can observe the air pressure and draw some conclusions, but in my opinion, it is not a real forecast, because the instrument can only show the current air pressure, but of course not the air pressure in 12 hours.
So the only possibility is to prepare with clothes for all kinds of weather that you can expect. For a rainy day in a cabin, I also carry one of the pocket books that I always wanted to read, and so it happened that I learned a lot about Java in the Alesjaure cabin.