The most powerful storm for 30 years has battered large parts of Central and Northern Norway, affecting power, transport links, and other infrastructure.
Greetings from the high seas! Yes, believe it or not, I've spent the last few days sailing up the Norwegian coastline in a game of cat and mouse with the severe weather that has struck Norway these last days.
Just after midnight on Thursday morning, we docked and dropped anchor in Bodø together with several other vessels, just a few hours before the worst of the storm struck Bodø.
Watching the Storm from Bodø
I'm on the ship Havila Polaris on the Norwegian coastal route. Most Hurtigruten and Havila ships have been impacted over the last few days, with some cancelling huge parts of the route or simply staying in port.
Here is a quick video I took this morning, to give you a feel for the conditions:
We have been sailing between two storms, leaving Ålesund and Molde on Tuesday night before the worst weather arrived on Wednesday, and sailing directly to Bodø.
That meant missing Trondheim and five other ports, but most importantly it meant arriving in Bodø safely before the storm.
Right now I'm sat in the cafe on Havila Polaris watching and listening to the winds battering the port. There's no way a ship could dock right now, so it was terrific planning and decision-making from the captain and their crew.
The journey was surprisingly free of rough seas (aside from the short areas of open sea) and strong winds. It's only know we're waking up to the storm in Bodø that some people understand why the voyage has been so heavily disrupted.
By the way, you can follow the progress of my journey on the Norwegian coastal route by following Life in Norway on Instagram.
Bodø Centre Closed
Shortly after I shot the above video, the Norwegian Police issued an alert using the national warning system, which is rarely used outside testing periods.
The alert essentially told anyone in Bodø city centre to stay indoors, so it's a good job I filmed the video when I did! The weather had by this point taken a turn for the worse, with snow added in to the mix too.
During the day, windows in one of Bodø's taller hotels were blown out by the storm, among other damage.
Norway Cut in Two
Elsewhere in Norway, the storm, named ‘Ingunn', comes just days after a previous storm hit Northern Norway, causing widespread disruption. As I understand it, two or more weather systems have now combined along the coastline to create this monster storm that's affecting coastal communities between Bergen and Bodø.
Authorities have urged people to stay inside unless absolutely necessary in huge parts of coastal Norway. Hurricane-force winds have forced airlines and ferry companies to cancel departures, and schools to close in some areas.
The E6, Norway's primary north-south highway, is closed over the exposed Saltfjellet mountain in Nordland, effectively cutting the country's road network in two.
In the previous northern storm just a day or two ago, waves of up to 20 metres high were recorded in Lofoten. Wind gusts of up to 40 metres per second were recorded in several places, while one location just south of Bodø recorded gusts of more than 64 metres per second.
It's not just on the seas where travel has been disrupted. High winds mean several flight departures have been cancelled or severely delayed. The communications manager at Widerøe simply said: “The winds are too strong.”
Red Warning in Place
At the time of writing, a red warning remains in place for much of the coastline. It's the highest level of risk given by meteorologists. The advice states for anyone in the “red” warning area to seek shelter, and prepare your home for a potentially long power outage.
At present, the forecast seems pretty uncertain for the next 24-48 hours, although there is set to be some improvement in wind conditions later this afternoon. Whether we leave Bodø on time or continue to shelter here remains to be seen!
I also feel for the organising team of Bodø 2024, who are right now putting the finishes touches to the opening ceremony, which is due to be held in just a couple of days. It seems that the specially-built harbour stage did not sustain any damage, however.