Norway has experienced its eighth warmest December since 1900, with torrential rainfall second only to December 1975. The deluge has pushed power prices to a seven-year low, and meteorologists predict the mild conditions will continue.
Large areas of the inner eastern region were between six and eight degrees Celsius warmer than average, and parts of Agder and Rogaland saw rainfall between 300 and 400 percent higher, reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. For Norway as a whole, precipitation was 180 percent higher than the December norm.
“It happens more often than to be coincidental that a mild start to the winter also means the rest of winter will be mild, said Josten Mamen from the Meteorological Institute (Meteorologisk institutt, MET).
He said those holding out hope crisp conditions could still arrive may be disappointed. “I found only one example in the 77 years we’ve kept records: the winter of 1984/1985.” In December 1984 the temperature was two degrees above average, while January and February were two degrees cooler than average.
The rain has brought some positives. Electricity in Norway is almost completely generated by hydroelectric plants. Reservoirs are overflowing after the record rainfall, driving down power prices down to the lowest level since 2007.
“It’s likely that the spot price from January until March will lie around 30 cents (øre) per kilowatt hour,” energy analyst John Brotemsmo Bema from Bergen Energi told DN. “In comparison, the price for the four Nordic countries has on average remained at roughly 38 cents in the period from 2000 to 2013.”
Dormant snow machinery
The lack of snow in Oslo has been particularly bad news for snow-clearing companies, who’ve had little work so far this season. “Now, 400 of our winter vehicles are at a standstill,” said Hans Moe-Christensen from Vaktmesterkompaniet, the clearing company contracted by the Oslo City Council. “In November/December we had three snowfalls. That’s not so unusual, but it is unusual that it’s mild and there’s no snow left on the ground.”
Moe-Christensen told DN he isn’t anxious about the weather. “There has been a good deal of gritting and salting, while we have some permanent contracts. More snow is coming. We cleared the snow during the night at Tryvann,” he said, referring to Oslo’s winter park 500 metres above sea level.
Vaktmesterkompaniet employs 180 staff and has contracts with 450 farmers to clear the snow from the city. They’re guaranteed remuneration, whether or not the snow arrives. “There is no drama now, but if the whole winter continues this way there will be consequences,” said Moe-Christensen.