Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Saturday, November 20, 2010

End of Sun

Around this time of the fall when you get a clear blue day in Bella Coola most of us start to notice how near we are to the "end of sun" for the winter.   If you are wondering what I'm talking about, it's a simple fact of Bella Coola Valley life that a lot of the properties in Bella Coola have a period where they receive no direct sunlight.  It varies a lot depending on your location from being sunless for a few weeks to a few months. Our location is 6 weeks starting at the first week of December.  Today I was reminded that the time is near when I was outside and the sun suddenly covered the yard in the early afternoon with intense bright light.  It was a pleasant 30 minutes before it dropped behind the mountain.

The basic problem is that the Bella Coola Valley is roughly an east west valley, and the south side of the valley has a wall of mountains from 5-8000' high.  The only thing that gives a break to some areas are the 'notches' created by side valleys.  It is through these notches that people living in proximity of some the gaps and those on the very north side of the valley - the Salloomt River road is the most noticeable - get sun almost every day because the angle works out better for them.

It's not as bad as it sounds - in the period we have no sun for six weeks there will be at least 3 or more of those weeks that no one is getting sun anyway because of cloudy or stormy days.  Another week or two we will likely have snow cover on the ground and the mountains and we get a lot of bright reflected sunlight which is enough to just cast a faint shadow.

We are not alone though. The village of Viganella in Italy solved the problem with a giant 5 x 8 metre stainless steel mirror.  There situation was identical to ours - the whole village sunless for 3 months because of the alps. A teasing sun line on the mountain above them gave an entrepreneur an idea to solve the problem. Their mirror mounted on the mountain above and tracking the sun by computer focuses sun on the village square, so you can come out get your daily dose.  Grizzly


  1. I live on the prairies, when I drive through the interior of B.C. I think about the mountains, and the lack of sun starting in the fall.

    Don't think I would like to live there, as beautiful as it is.

    I feel better when I get to the more open parts of the southern route, through Grand Forks, and so on.

    very nice blog and photographs are really something.

  2. Hi,
    Beautiful photos and very interesting blog. Does the town itself receive much direct sun in the winter?

  3. The southern part of the townsite of Bella Coola which is closest to the mountain has a period of little sun. Closer to the river, so further north there are a few spots that catch a few rays, I'm not certain if there is a period where somewhere in the townsite always gets sun, possible a little bit through the side valleys and late in the day when the sun moves to the west. Grizzly