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Norway to revamp alert system to ensure tourists are aware of dangerous weather

Not enough tourists are notified of potentially treacherous conditions or dangerous weather, and a new system is being worked on, the Directorate for Social Security and Preparedness has said. 

Pictured are hikers on Galdhøpiggen, Scandinavia's tallest mountain.
Tourists in Norway aren't always warned about dangerous weather. Pictured are hikers on Galdhøpiggen, Scandinavia's tallest mountain. Photo by Rachel Ellis on Unsplash

A lot of dangerous weather warnings fail to reach the tourists who come to Norway in their droves for activity holidays or to take in the stunning scenery, according to the Directorate for Social Security and Preparedness (DSB). 

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute uses three colours for its weather warnings. The first is yellow, which means challenging weather. Then there is orange, meaning a serious situation. And finally, there is the red warning, which warns of extreme weather. 

However, in the event of a yellow warning, there is a limit to how municipalities can contact people in the area. 

“It is largely based on people having to follow along (with the situation) themselves,” the emergency manager at Vestland County, Håvard Stensvand, told public broadcaster NRK.

This means it is up to tourists and visitors to keep themselves informed of adverse weather situations, as they may only be forewarned of the most extreme conditions. 

“With the current arrangements, our experience so far indicates that it is unfortunately not possible to reach everyone with this type of information,” the acting director of the DSB told NRK. 

By the end of the year, the directorate hopes to implement a new system using different technology that will send all phones connected to the nearby mobile network a message warning of the weather. 

Some local authorities had raised concerns that the current system meant that alerts were only sent to the phone registered to residents in the area

The new system should then ensure those visiting the area will also be warned about potentially dangerous conditions. 

Where to check for weather warnings

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. You can also get an overview of weather warnings and report any adverse conditions yourself on varsom.no

If you are in area with a lot of tourism, it is worth also checking with the local tourist office, due to their specialised knowledge of the local area. 

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WEATHER

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

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