Northern areas braced for big storm

Residents of northern Norway, especially those along the coast, were braced for a major storm expected to generate waves as high as 15-16 meters on Friday. Offshore oil and gas platforms faced being forced to halt production, while onshore flooding was likely.

Some areas were already being hit by gale-force winds on Thursday. State meteorol0gists told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the high tides and waves would result from a powerful low-pressure system moving from the northern Atlantic Ocean into the Norwegian Sea. The area around Haltenbanken was expected to get what meteorologists called “100-year waves” – those so large they occur only once every hundred years on average.

Waves of 15-16 meters mean they can crest at up to 30 meters, said Rasmus Myklebust of the state meteorological institute. “Vessels at anchor will mark the waves especially well,” Myklebust said, adding that some oil platforms will more than likely need to shut down operations. Officials at Statoil told reporters they were following the weather situation closely.

“Every platform has different criteria for shutdown,” Ola Ander Skauby of Statoil told website bt.no. “In extreme weather it can happen that we stop external maintenance operations, and in some cases reduce or halt production entirely.” He said that floating installations were more vulnerable than platforms that are anchored to the sea floor.

Others were battening down the hatches as well, from Stad in the south to Kirkenes in the far northeast. Coastal areas of Vesterålen were said to be particularly at risk, while high water levels, powerful waves and strong winds were expected to batter the entire Norwegian coast from the Trondheim Fjord to Tromsø.

The storm has been given the name “Berit” and was due to reach its peak in central and northern Norway on Friday.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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