Norwegians from north to south were all but drowning in chilly rain or even snow as their traditional month-long summer holidays began this week. While the rest of Europe is sweltering in a heat wave, Norway seemed caught in an unusual cold snap with temperatures due to drop in the most southern parts of the country too.
Also there the warm temperatures and sunshine of last week turned initially into uncomfortably humid weather and set off spectacular, even scary, lightning and thunder storms. State meteorologists could report 700 lightning strikes around the Hardanger area of Hordaland east of Bergen on Sunday.
“There’s been a lot of lightning and thunder in Hordaland and Rogaland, with lots of torrential downpours,” meteorologist Frode Hassel of Værvarsling på Vestlandet told state broadcaster NRK. He said the stormy weather was heading northwards Sunday evening, and set to strike areas north of Stad on the West Cape.
“It’s been quite dramatic,” Hassel said, not least after lightning shut down the main train line between Bergen and Oslo (Bergensbanen) between Finse and Voss on Sunday at midday Sunday because it knocked out electricity. Local trains between Bergen and Myrdal, the upper starting point of the popular Flåmsbanen train line that’s deluged with tourists at this time of year, were also shut down.
Train service resumed in the afternoon, “but it’s slow,” a spokeswoman for state railroad BaneNor told NRK. Lightning also set off fires in Haugesund and Voss, and provided extra drama around the Opera House in Oslo and north to Trondheim. Meteorologists blamed a cold front that met other air masses that created thick clouds and clashed.
In Northern Norway, meanwhile, residents were trying to flee snow, sleet and cold rain by booking last-minute trips to southern climes or even driving south to places like Luleå and Piteå in Sweden, where it was warmer along the Baltic coast. In mid-Norway, tourists and residents alike were hit by heavy rain and thunder over the Dovre mountains and north into Trøndelag. Thermometers read only 6C in some areas. The Lyngen area of Troms was hit by 12 centimeters of snow at a time of year when the Midnight Sun is supposed to be shining.
The northern areas were not at all consoled by news that the thunder storms in Southern Norway were moving northwards on Monday. “We have a lot of unstable air mass,” state meteorologist Kristen Gislefoss told NRK, as he predicted more stormy weather for Telemark, Sørlandet and the mountains of Southern Norway, where snow was predicted in Sognefjellet. The bad weather was also spreading from Rogaland and Hordaland to Sogn og Fjordane, Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag.
Temperatures were also expected to be “unusually low” through the first week of July in most parts of Norway. “It’s not normal that the entire country has such low temperatures,” meteorologist Terje Alsvik Walløe told NRK. It was expected to be coldest along the West Coast, and in Central and Northern Norway.