Most residents of Norway from north to south woke up again on Thursday to chilly temperatures and, in many areas, rain or even snow. While researchers claim the globe has never been as warm as it is now, Norway and much of Scandinavia and northern Europe are shivering.
Thermometers have been showing temperatures in the single digits, even in the middle of June, and fresh snow fell on the county of Sør-Trøndelag last Sunday. Several highways over the mountains of southern Norway had to close earlier this month, just as the summer tourist season was getting underway, and there’s so much snow at high elevations that the hiking season may never open this summer. Several mountain cabins and lodges that normally house hikers remain buried, and state officials fear flooding when and if the snow finally starts melting.
Coldest on record
In Oslo, which warmed up a bit on Tuesday with one day of good weather, it was dark, sprinkling and unseasonably cool Thursday morning, although at least the unusually strong winds that have blown regularly this spring had died down. State meteorologists told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that it’s now official: The spring of 2015 has been the coldest on record.
May, normally a festive month in Norway, was especially disappointing, ranking as the wettest since 1949. It was also the coldest in 10 years on a national basis. “Those of us who like to go skiing think it’s great that the ski trails have lasted so long,” state meteorologist John Smits told NRK with a smile after he went skiing at Valdres in the mountains on the last weekend of May.
In Bergen, though, the near-constant rain in May that has continued into June challenged even the hardiest West Coast resident. Vestlandet, as the region is called, “had very bad luck in May this year,” Smits said, noting that 240.5 millimeters of rain were registered at one weather station in Bergen, compared to 198.2 in 1989, which was the city’s previous record for precipitation.
Global warming still a threat
The cold spring and summer is an abrupt turnaround from last summer’s record warm temperatures in Oslo and elsewhere in Norway. Even though some have joked about “a new ice age” descending on the country, meteorologists stress there is no reason to doubt that the globe is still getting steadily warmer.
“There is no clash between global and local climate, climate researcher Rasmus Benestad told weather website yr.no. “It can be cold locally while it’s warmer other places.” Benestad blamed the jetstream and its wind patterns for the cold air masses from the Arctic that have gathered over Norway in recent months.
The forecast for the weekend was looking better all over the country, though, with sunshine from Sørlandet in the south to Finnmark in the north and even on Svalbard in the Arctic. Temperatures were predicted to range from as high as 19C (68F) in Oslo to 7C in Hammerfest (mid-40sF).