Weather site takes on the world

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A joint venture between Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and Norway’s Meteorological Institute led to their creation of a website about weather that’s spreading across the globe. It’s become a favourite site to check local or international forecasts, even though officials behind yr.no claim they’ve never had any ambitions for such huge international growth.

The Norwegian website "yr.no" has become popular around the world. PHOTO: yr.no screen grab

The Norwegian website “yr.no” has become popular around the world. PHOTO: yr.no screen grab

Last year, more than 4.5 million unique visitors clicked into yr.no every week, a leap of around 1.0 million during its start-up year, 2007. “We have no ambitions to expand internationally,” Tom Erik Støwer, editor of yr.no (external link, mostly in Norwegian), told newspaper Aftenposten. “The growth in traffic is simply a consequence of the Internet.”

More than half of yr.no’s users are now based outside of Norway. The proportion of Norwegian users dropped to 43 percent of total traffic in December last year from around 50-60 percent earlier in the year, illustrating the rise in international visitors. Around 25 percent of yr.no’s readers are clicking in from Sweden, while the remaining share is  spread across the globe, with Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Great Britain, Finland, Iceland and South Africa among the top 10 user countries, Aftenposten reported.

“We don’t want world domination,” Mai-Linn Finstad, communications adviser at the Meteorological Institute and yr.no, told the paper. She said the international traffic is actually unwanted. “But because we have the data, and believe this type of data should be freely accessible, we provide the information,” Finstad said.

Detailed forecasts free of charge
Yr.no, which offers weather forecasts for more than 9 million places around the world, presents its tax-funded information free of charge in English and offers international weather data from the European meteorological center in the UK. It has attracted visitors from all over the world because of its detailed forecasts for precise locations. “I think the reason for yr.no’s success is its user-friendliness,” Støwer said.

Few other European countries offer weather forecasts for free and none on such a scale as in Norway, where the weather is a constant issue of interest and a major part of the daily news.

The Norwegian meteorological data is financed by the state through taxes, so Norwegians have really already paid for the existence of the site, yr.no officials believe. “Making this information freely available is also why yr.no was started,” Finstad said.

Views and News from Norway/Aasa Christine Stoltz

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