Yr.no is the Norwegian online weather forecast site. Founded in 2007, it’s a relative newcomer.
This compared to venerable BBC Weather online in 1997 and meteorological heavyweight Meteo France online in 2002. Yet it has rapidly gained national and then international presence.
The site now registers more than a million visits a week, peaking at two million visits a week in midsummer. In 2009, Farmers Weekly magazine in South Africa reported that more than 100,000 South Africans rely on Yr. no for weather forecasts.
These figures suggest that the pairing of Yr.no’s founder owners the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (DNMI) and state broadcaster NRK has been fortunate.
DNMI has access to an enormous amount of data from Norwegian sources, along with the meteorological services of 19 other European countries. It also accesses the UK’s Reading-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) services, with its gigantic supercomputer complex. This facility holds the world’s largest archive of weather prediction data.
At the same time, Yr is equally important for appealing to a public in and out of Norway. It features Bokmål, Nynorsk, Samisk, the language of the Sami of the North, Kvensk, the language of the Kven minority in Troms and Finnmak Counties, and English the world’s leading vehicular language, the lingua franca of today.
The story of Norway’s state of the art expertise starts in 1917. Vilhelm Bjerknes (1862-1951), one of the world’s leading meteorologists, was persuaded to leave the University at Leipzig at the behest of polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen.
He returned to his native Norway to initiate meteorological activities at theUniversity of Bergen’s newly established Geophysical Institute. It was one of the more decisive transfers of talent of the early 20th century.
Prof. Bjerknes and his colleagues set about founding Bergensskolen innen meteorologi(‘the Bergen School of Meteorology’). It is a scientific methodology that underlies much of meteorology as it now is practiced worldwide
Its principal contribution was a mathematical explanations regime on the atmosphere’s behaviour. It enabled weather prediction through data analysis, well suited to the ever faster number crunching abilities of today’s computers.
Other developments followed apace. A geophysical institute – later called Værvarslinga for Nord-Norge (“Weather forecasting for Northern Norway”) – was set up at Tromsø in 1920. Regular daily radio broadcasts of weather forecasts started in 1922-23.
Weather forecasts became a fixed part of Dagsrevyen (‘Daily news’) when television broadcasting started in 1958.
Norway’s lying mostly above 60°N, with a coastline second in length only to that of far larger Russia, means weather long has been a bugbear in everyday life. Little surprise, then, that the services are still well received by the public.
To check weather where you are, go here. Mono and multi-language walkers can also check the sibling joint NRK-Norwegian Trekking Association venture UT.no.