Norway’s state meteorologists raised storm warnings to their highest level, so-called “red alert,” on Friday, as a potentially fatal system of extreme weather bore down on the southern part of the country. Residents were urged to stay indoors, while several schools and children’s day care centers were closing early.
Heavy rain was pouring down on the Oslo area at midday and the weather was due to worsen considerably during the course of the afternoon and evening. The southern coastal areas around Kristiansand were initially expected to bear the brunt of the storm, but that changed Friday. Warning levels remained at the second-highest “orange” level in Kristiansand and other portions of Sørlandet, but they were raised for the Oslo area, where winds could hit 160 kilometers an hour.
The danger level was hiked to red because of the strong winds expected in Oslo and the counties of Akershus, Østfold and Vestfold. “There will be great danger that lives can be lost and that there can be major damage to property and infrastructure,” the meteorological institute stated in its storm guidelines.
State meteorologist Kristin Seter told newspaper VG that the storm’s danger rating was upgraded for the entire Oslo Fjord region. The storm has already been given a name in Denmark, Knud, and it was moving north.
“We’re upgrading the storm in the Oslo Fjord area because it’s more heavily populated, and because the kind of weather we’re expecting is more unusual,” Seter said.
The storm had also been upgraded along the Swedish coast, where authorities were sending out warnings for damage to buildings, flying objects and falling trees. Train traffic was cancelled in many areas of Sweden and the strong winds could also make driving dangerous.
Norwegian police were urging caution and asking the public to secure all loose items outdoors, dismantle trampolines and cancel any weekend plans for boating, hikes in the forests or up in the mountains, where winds are also expected to be dangerously strong and snow was already falling. They called on residents to “stay home” instead of venturing out Friday afternoon and evening.