West Coast saturated by another deluge

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UPDATED: Norway’s West Coast, especially the area from Stad south to Bergen and Stavanger, headed into another wet and wild holiday weekend, just as weather conditions were settling down much farther north, on Svalbard. Warnings were posted once again, for heavy rain in four counties, and they were mostly all saturated by Friday night.

As evacuation orders were lifted on Svalbard, after a storm and the avalanche danger it brought subsided, state meteorologists sent out new warnings for Hordaland, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Nordland counties. They were expected to be hit hard on Friday and Saturday by as much as 100 millimeters of rain in just a 24-hour period during the New Year’s weekend.

“We’re expecting large amounts of precipitation over the next day, with inland areas especially vulnerable,” Frode Hassel of the state Meteorological Institute told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

It was all blamed on a new weather front lying just north of the West Cape at Stad that had been moving slowly south. It was forecast to lie over southwestern Norway (Vestlandet) on Saturday, bringing with it torrential rain and flood danger. It was already raining heavily in many areas by midday on Friday.

Hassel said the Samnanger area of Hordaland County was due for the heaviest downpours, along with areas north of Stavanger. Residents were told to expect 60 to 100 millimeters of rain.

Helgeland, Saltfjellet and Salten in Nordland County were also due to be hammered by unseasonal rain, not snow. Warnings were also up for a very stormy New Year’s Eve in the Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag counties, with heavy rain and snow over elevations of 700 to 900 meters.

By Saturday morning, many areas such as Gloppen were flooded and roads were closed by landslides set off by the heavy rain. Around 20,000 households, farms and businesses were without power Saturday morning.

The best weather for New Year celebrations in Norway was expected in Østlandet (southeastern Norway) and Finnmark in the far north. Relatively clear skies for viewing fireworks were also expected southeast of Dovre, with little wind or fog.

Temperatures continued to be unusually warm for this time of year, but weren’t setting any records. Unusual weathers conditions with winds from the south led to thermometers showing as much as 18.1C (68F) in Sunndalsøra in the along the northwest coast. “That’s because of a phenomenon we get with strong southerly winds,” said meteorologist Martin Granerød. “The air comes down from the mountains and gets warmed up.”

He noted, though, that temperatures hit 18.3C on December 1st and 17th, 1998 in the same area, so this week’s weather didn’t set new warmth records. The coldest temperature recorded in Norway during the night, meanwhile, was minus-8.2C at Høydalsmo in Telemark County.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund