Norwegian meteorologists were warning on Monday that it was better to believe in Santa Claus than dream of a “hvit jul” (White Christmas) in most parts of Norway. In stark contrast to the avalanches on Svalbard, the mainland was due for unseasonably high temperatures and some rain throughout the Christmas and New Year holidays.
It was sunny and 6C (well over 40F) in Oslo at midday on Monday and the forecast was even worse for those hoping for snow and skiing during the holidays. In addition to temperatures of 7C on Christmas Day, there may also be rain in the picture.
Along the southern and western coasts, residents faced temperatures as high as 11C in Kristiansand, Bergen and Stavanger this past weekend, falling to forecasts of 9C and rain later in the week. Molde and Ålesund were also facing a “Green Christmas” with temperatures as high as 8C on Christmas Eve, while it was due to be a bit colder in Trondheim but with no snow in the forecast given temperatures of 4C predicted for Christmas Day.
Even the northern cities of Bodø and Tromsø were hit with forecasts well above the freezing point. Tromsø has had snow earlier, but the lack of much new snow anywhere on mainland Norway, except at high elevations, was in sharp contrast to the blizzards and avalanches that hit Svalbard hard over the weekend.
Many ski resorts, also in the mountains, were having a hard time offering ski-able slopes or trails for holiday visitors. Oslo Winterpark just outside the capital had been trying to make artificial snow but only had one slope open during the weekend. More would open, the ski center stated, when the weather allowed it.
Asked whether anyone in southern Norway could dream of a white Christmas, meteorologist Håkin Mjelstad told news bureau NTB: “No, at least not in Southern Norway. It’s better to rely on julenissen (Norway’s version of Santa Claus).”
Instead he advised bracing for mild and wet holidays, which in Norway traditionally begin with lilla julaften (Little Christmas Eve) on the 23rd and extend through New Year. Mjelstad also warned of strong winds many places. “And the snowline in the mountains is much higher than normal,” Mjelstad told NTB. “You have to get up to 1,400 to 1,500 meters to find snow during the first portion of the holidays.”
One consolation may be more sightings of the Northern Lights, if the skies are clear. Norway is experiencing another year of unusually high activity regarding the Aurora Borealis, with the shimmering waves of green and other colours even lightening up the skies over Oslo as late as last week.
“Seeing the Northern Lights dance over the heavens is an experience you never forget,” Christine Maldaner-Kunz told newspaper Aftenposten after spotting them from her terrace on Nesodden, the peninsula just across the fjord from Oslo. Researcher Pål Brekke attributed the Northern Lights activity to “powerful explosions” on the sun that also led to sightings over northern Germany last week.