Beware the Falling Ice!

ice sign

Risk of falling snow! (But this stretch of sidewalk has been nicely shoveled–for now…)


Up until yesterday, it has been very cold and snowy in Stockholm.

Lots of signs and barriers appeared on the Stockholm sidewalks warning of falling ice and snow (from the buildings). I’ve never known anyone who was hit by a falling icicle but I get the feeling that it’s happened a lot here in the capitol city. It makes me think of a puzzle story I heard a long time ago where a murder scene is imagined and you are only told what the evidence around the dead body is. Among other things, there is a puddle of water and it turns out that the person was killed with an icicle. (I’m not exactly sure how.) But it’s convenient when a murder weapon disappears. Anyway, don’t think I don’t feel a little nervous as the temperature swings between freezing and melting temperatures!

It’s common to see a section of sidewalk blocked off either because they are worried icicles will drop on people there or because there are workers on the roofs there shoving snow off to the ground. Usually they leave a worker-guy or two on the ground to steer people around because there’s always someone who isn’t paying attention and who ignores the barriers.

When the Going Gets Rough
As if dodging shovels of snow and icicles isn’t enough, the going has been very tricky lately on the sidewalks of Stockholm. The shoveling is extremely uneven in the city, as it’s up to business establishments to shovel in front of their stores. This results in there being clear patches and then long stretches of uneven, slippery mush-on-ice which is the trickiest of all. The pictures I took don’t show the layer of ice under the mush.

ice sign

Beware! (Here you can see a section of sidewalk that has not been cleared.)


I have great empathy for parents trying to push strollers through and over this stuff. It looks really challenging. Up until now, I thought that it must be such a pain to get your small child all bundled up in all that winter clothing but now I see that that is well, child’s play compared to maneuvering that stroller.

And what do people in wheelchairs do? It must be next to impossible. From inside a store the other day, I saw a young caretaker trying to push an adult in a wheelchair down the sidewalk right outside a huge store and she could not get through. She turned the chair around and was finally successful at dragging the chair backwards through the snow.

sidewalk candles

Candles out on the sidewalks are cozy during the darkest time of the year…(This is a tricky sidewalk. It looks benign but don’t be fooled by the hidden ice underneath the brown sand they’ve put down.)


Lighting the Way
One really nice thing is that businesses often set candles of various sorts outside their storefronts. I think it looks so cozy but I am always thinking, couldn’t somebody accidently catch a coattail or something in the open candles (some are more open than others.) But I guess that’s because I come from a state where people worry about forest fires. Here in Sweden, it’s just too damp most of the time.

Yesterday and today has seen warmer temperatures, right around freezing. It’s snowing very, very wet snow which makes the mush level even higher. The old ice and snow is still there so the mush just adds to the general mess. And if the temperature drops, all this water will freeze and then we will really have fun!


ice in drain

A downspout with a block of dripping ice at the bottom of it…


I mentioned in a recent post that the snow at that time was the driest I have ever seen. Now I can relate that I have seen the wettest snow (without being rain) that I’ve ever seen. I look forward to counting all the other types of snow we’ll see this winter. I am secretly (well not so secretly since I am blogging on the internet) pleased that this year has already had much more “winter” than last year–my first year in Sweden. Now I get to feel like a real Viking!

  • Jacob Ericsson

    The reasons for all the signage was due to a teenager back in 2005 that died from a falling icicle. The question of who was responsible went all the way to Högsta Domstolen and I believe the law changed shortly thereafter. Now the property owner is responsible for making sure the rooftops are safed and/or signed. Not entirely sure about what the law details, but that’s the background anyway.

    • Kristin Lund

      Ah, very interesting. I didn’t know that. I love that the readers of this blog teach me things. God Jul! Thanks for commenting.

  • Neryflan

    This is great news for some of the group that is to do that work
    This is probably one of the most common ways without people even knowing.
    thank you for share it ..
    awnings Chicago

  • Monica-USA

    I was wondering about the business’s that don’t shovel the sidewalks off do they end up with some sort of fine from the city? Since it is a hazard/safety issue I would think the cities/towns would issue some sort of fine if the sidewalks weren’t kept clear? Enjoy your snow Kristin. :o )

    • Jacob Ericsson

      The property owner is responsible for the snow plowing directly outside their house. The sidewalk that is, not the street. In town though, a sheet of ice several inches thick usually form on the pavements. Buildings leak heat and melt the snow so there’s always some ice forming unless it is extremely cold and that can’t really be shoveled off. Usually it just becomes like a second floor and you can walk on it fine, problems occur if pieces of it start breaking up. Then you have “ice pot holes” :)

      • Monica-USA

        Jacob, thank you for the explanation. :o )

      • Kristin Lund

        Interesting. I diddn’t previously understand the heat from the buildings was affecting the ice…but I knew something was happening. You’re right, the worst parts are where it is very uneven.

    • Kristin Lund

      I wondered about this as well. Plus it seems like it would discourage customers from coming in when the sidewalk is extra tricky outside of certian establishments…It even occurred to me that in the US, biz owners would be way too worried about lawsuits to let it be like that… a positive side to being such a litigious society!