The storms that were forecast for the weekend set a new record in lightning strikes in Norway, with nearly 18,000 recorded between Friday morning and Saturday night. Officials reported that the storms, though, resulted in more disruption than destruction.
While the country’s population center around Oslo didn’t experience much more than strong wind, and even enjoyed sunshine on Saturday and much of Sunday, residents along the west and northern coasts saw lots of dramatic weather.
“I have never registered so many lightning bolts, but it’s been an extraordinary year,” weather researcher Frank Haftor Dahlsett of Sintef Energi AS told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Sunday. “We never registered so many lightning bolts as this year.”
Friday topped the statistics with 14,336 lightning strikes along the Norwegian coast. One of them is suspected of setting the historic Rindal Church in Møre og Romsdal on fire, after the church’s tower was reported ablaze late Friday night. The vice-mayor of Rindal credits the heroic efforts of local firefighters with saving the 141-year-old church from destruction.
Lightning struck roughly another 3,000 times during the course of the blustery day on Saturday until the major brunt of the storm passed over central and north-central Norway.
Strong winds also died down after the worst of the season’s first major autumn storm swept in over much of the country. Dahlsett said the lightning so far this year is four- to five times the normal level.
Thousands lost power
“The reason is that it has been very warm over a long period,” Dahlsett told NRK. “When moist air rolls in and the ground is still warm, there often is lightning.” He said the lightning can be both fascinating and frightening.
The lightning also knocked out power to many areas in Norway, not least in Trøndelag, where thousands of households remained without electricity on Saturday and hundreds didn’t get power back until Sunday. The communities of Hitra, Frøya, Åfjord and Osen were hit the hardest.
The storm otherwise led to several cancellations and delays in passenger shipping along the coast, with both ferries and portions of the coastal voyage Hurtigruten prevented from either mooring or leaving various ports. Some roads were closed but no major damage or injuries were reported.