Wind and waves clobber the coast
November 26, 2011
The “extreme weather system” known as “Berit” hit Norway’s northwest coast hard on Friday and through the night into Saturday morning, moving north from Hordaland and Møre og Romsdal up to Lofoten and beyond. Waves as high as 30 meters, hurricane-force winds and record-high tides generated plenty of drama but no casualties.
Meteorologists opted for the “extreme weather” description instead of just a “storm,” because of the various aspects of “Berit,” which had been forecast since mid-week. Many linked the lack of injuries and casualties to the forecasts that allowed many to take precautions in advance.
Several wooden holiday and fishing cabins known as rorbuer were nonetheless destroyed on Lofoten, and some island communities were left isolated on Saturday. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that several yachts and other boats were swamped at Sømna in Nordland, where also homes and businesses were flooded.
Oil company Statoil decided to shut down production at several oil fields including Åsgård A, Heidrun and Njård, and send workers home because of the high seas and hurricane conditions.
“It was blowing over hurricane strength and the platforms were moving quite a lot,” Ola Anders Skauby told website Dagbladet.no. “They registered waves over 14 meters and expected that to increase.”
The waves crashed over the historic Kråkenes Fyr (lighthouse), perched on a cliff over the sea just south of Stad, where winds also reached hurricane strength. Magnar Reistad, a researcher at the Meteorological Institute in Bergen, told weather website yr.no that Lofoten got hit the hardest, though, suffering the most material damage.
Seas rising to record high levels were recorded at Bodø (nine centimeters over the last record of 404cm logged in 1979), Kabelvåg (428 centimeters) and Harstad (321 centimeters). “This is unusually high,” Reistad said. Many ferry routes were cancelled as were some sailings of the Hurtigruten vessels that ply the coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. The unusually rough seas affected routes between Lofoten and Stad. One vessel, for example, spent the night tied up at Måløy.
By Saturday afternoon, an estimated 2,500 residents along the coast were isolated including those living on the islands of Røst and Værøy, west of Bodø. The extreme weather destroyed both Værøy’s helicopter landing pad and ferry terminal, leaving residents cut off until repairs could be made. Røst was without power and facing food shortages, as supplies ran low in local stores, but island residents are accustomed to rough weather. “We’ll manage just fine,” mayor Tor Arne Andreassen told NRK.
Troms and Finnmark counties seemed to be avoiding the worst of the wind and waves, but seas were rising in the far north as well, with coastal areas expected to be reporting record high levels as well. Cellars needed to be pumped out in Harstad, with water levels high also in Tromsø and Honningsvåg.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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