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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Norway’s weather warning system

The weather in Norway can change rapidly and bring adverse conditions with it. Here’s what you need to know about weather alerts and what they mean. 

Pictured are a group of people in the rain in Bergen.
Here's what you need to know about the weather alert system in Norway. Pictured are a group of people in the rain in Bergen. Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET) uses three colours for its weather warnings. The first is yellow, which means challenging weather. 

When a yellow weather warning is in place, you will need to “be aware of” the conditions, and it can create challenging scenarios. Overall, the consequences of yellow weather incidents are expected to be relatively small. 

Those in the area are expected to be able to go about their business, but there may be local power outages, traffic delays, and wind which makes travelling in the mountains dangerous. 

Yellow warnings are also issued in instances where MET “expects greater consequences for far more people, but are unsure whether the weather will actually occur.”

For this reason, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute says that people should monitor the situation when a yellow warning is in place. 

Orange alerts are for when serious weather situations may occur, and the public is advised to “be prepared”. 

These weather warnings are issued when the institute expects extensive consequences, which could endanger lives and valuables may be lost. When an orange warning is in place, roads will be closed, planes will be grounded, and people will need to assess whether it is safe to carry out activities or not. 

Like yellow warnings, an orange weather warning can be issued when even more extreme weather is expected, but it isn’t 100 percent certain it may arrive. 

When extreme weather scenarios are expected, a red weather warning is issued. When a red weather warning is issued, the public is advised to secure their valuables. During red weather, it is “very likely there will be widespread damage, travel and power disruption and even risk to life,” according to Norwegian forecasting site Yr.


The system for determining the risk of avalanches is slightly different. Norway follows the international standard for avalanches, meaning there are five danger levels, ranging from low avalanche danger to very high. 

These are colour coded from green to red. Yr, a joint service run by public broadcaster NRK and MET. Yr only displays orange and red avalanche warnings (danger level three to five). 

Where to check forecasts? 

The most popular service for checking the weather in Norway is “Yr” The service is run by the Meteorological Institute and NRK. 

You can either head to the website or download the app on IOS or Android to use the service. 

You will receive warnings of adverse weather conditions there. On the website, you can check specifically to see whether there are any weather warnings across Norway.

On varsom, you can find information on floods, landslides and avalanches. 

If you have an activity planned with a guide, such as off-piste skiing or hiking, you should also speak to them about conditions. The same applies to local tourist offices due to their local knowledge and expertise. 

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Northern Lights likely to be visible over large parts of Norway this weekend

Large parts of Norway may be treated to the presence of the Northern Lights and the natural phenomenon could be visible as far south as Kristiansand, according to forecasts.

Northern Lights likely to be visible over large parts of Norway this weekend

Residents in southern Norway could have a chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights this weekend, forecasters have said.

The KP index will be between five and six this weekend, according to several forecasting sites. The northern parts of the Earth are divided into KP zones. The zones range from one to nine. For example, Tromsø, in the north, is in KP1 and Oslo in the southeast is in KP4.

The stronger the geomagnetic activity, the higher the KP number, and the further south the lights can be seen. KP5 and above is considered a geomagnetic storm.

A KP index of six means that there is a good chance that the lights will be visible even further south than Oslo.

However, a KP Index isn’t the only factor that determine whether you get to set your sights on the elusive lights. Instead, you will need some help from the weather forecast. Cloud coverage and light pollution hinder chances of seeing the lights.

Meteorologist Eldbjørg Moxnes told public broadcaster NRK that Saturday and the early hours of Sunday may be the best day to try and spot the Northern Lights.

“The best opportunities will probably be in the north as it looks now. It is a bit unfortunate that it will be cloudy until Saturday night in the south. A front is coming in from the west,” she said NRK.

During the early hours of Sunday morning, the clouds will break giving residents in Telemark and Buskerud a chance to see the lights.

Although, for those dismayed by the potential cloud coverage Moxnes did have some reassuring words.

“The cloud cover forecast is relatively uncertain several days ahead. Hope is probably not completely lost, here you just have to keep an eye on it in the short term,” she said.

In the longer term, the Northern Lights could become a more frequent occurrence over the next few years as the sun becomes more active after a few dormant years, according to an earlier NRK report.

READ MORE: How to take the best pictures of the Northern Lights