Norway was battered by winds well over hurricane force on Monday, as yet another major storm system moved in over southern portions of the country and extended to its northenmost areas of Troms and Finnmark. Meteorologists weren’t calling the weather “extreme,” though, even as it ripped the roof off a house in Hordaland, forced cancellation of several ferries and flights and closed most mountain passes.
“There’s no doubt this is really bad weather,” Vibeke Thyness of the state meteorological institute told Norway’s weather reporting service yr.no on Monday afternoon, when the storm reached its peak in Southern Norway.
“But we choose to call it a strong winter storm,” Thyness said. She and her colleagues didn’t categorize it as “extreme” or send out warnings of extreme weather, like they have before rain storms that have caused flooding, because it was hitting the hardest in mountain- and coastal areas that are thinly populated and without critical infrastructure.
The storm was nonetheless unusual, she said, because it raged throughout Monday with the strong winds due to extend well into Tuesday. “Most storms like this are over in around six to seven hours,” Thyness told NRK, “but this will continue all day long and most of Tuesday in Finnmark.” It was thus lasting much longer than most storms, with the worst far from over in the Far North.
The strongest winds by Monday evening, however, were recorded in the central Norwegian counties of Sogn og Fjordane, Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag. Hurricane-force winds were also recorded in the North Sea Monday morning before they move towards land and over the mountains. Winds were measured at 45.5 meters per second at Folgefonna in Hardanger.
“This is just crazy!” Thyness exclaimed to yr.no. “Hurricane force begins at 32.6 (meters per second).” She called such numbers “frighteningly high and clearly extreme,” but still not expected to cause widespread damage. Another measure put wind speed at more than 200 kilometers per hour (120mph).
State broadcaster NRK was reporting some damage, however, with the roof blown off a house just west of Bergen at Sotra in Hordaland. “I woke up to the entire roof ripped off and the chimney had disappeared,” homeowner Kristoffer Snekkevik told NRk. “I was in shock. Remnants of the roof are lying all around the forest area here.”
Unstable mountain under close watch
Several weather stations at lighthouses along Norway’s coast were also reporting winds far above hurricane force, and in Tromsø it was blowing so hard Monday afternoon that it was challenging to walk along the waterfront area on icy streets. The northern city’s popular gondola was closed because of the dangerous winds.
The bad weather was also dumping lots of snow around Southern Norway, up to 50 centimeters in some areas on Monday, while it remained mostly dry in Troms and Finnmark. The strong winds put geologists monitoring the unstable mountain known as Mannen in Romsdal on high alert, since they threatened to set off a massive landslide.