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Is it cold in Norway?

One of the first questions many people ask themselves before going to Norway, whether for a short or long stay, is the one about climate and, more precisely, temperatures. Is it cold in Norway? How to prepare for the country’s weather conditions?

Climate in Norway

Norway, being a quite large country regarding longitude, can suggest that temperatures are uneven along the coast but also very low due to its geographical location on Earth. However, this is not necessarily true.

Norway map

Here is an overview of the average temperatures recorded this past year in the 6 different cities visible on the map above (September 2017 to September 2018):

City

Average high temperatures of the hottest month

Average low temperatures of the coldest month

Rainy days in the year

Snowfall in the year (cm)

Tromsø

16°C

-10°C

154 days

412,8 cm

Oslo

25°C

-11°C

134 days

390 cm

Trondheim

21°C

-5°C

165 days

122,4 cm

Bergen

17°C

1°C

206 days

181 cm

Stavanger

18°C

1°C

226 days

48 cm

Ålesund

15°C

3°C

223 days

42,3 cm

If we don’t take into account the first two cities, not only are the temperatures mostly mild, but they do not benefit from a strong amplitude from one season to another. Unlike Montreal in Canada, at a lower latitude than all these cities, or even Alaska, which has much lower temperatures in winter.

What’s the explanation?

Gulfstream
The Norwegian west coast enjoys a relatively temperate climate for its geographical location thanks to the Gulf stream, a warm ocean current crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Florida. Thus, cities such as Stavanger, Ålesund or Bergen are warmed up and enjoy mild temperatures in winter, contrary to what their latitude might suggest.

However, as we move closer to the land, as in Oslo, temperatures become more and more uneven.

 

Also read: 25 things to know before going to study in Norway (Bergen).

 


Climate in Bergen

You have probably heard about the fact that Bergen is a very rainy city. Here is a graph that speaks for itself. It concerns the average precipitation per month:

Rainfall in Bergen
© NOAA: Average monthly precipitation

As a reference, a city like Paris experienced its wettest month of the year in January 2018 with 188 mm rainfall.

As far as temperatures are concerned, there are almost no substantial variations throughout the year. Winters are comparatively mild as summers are.

Mean high and low temperatures per month
© NOAA: Average high and low temperatures per month

To my great surprise, during my Erasmus semester in Bergen (January to June 2018), we enjoyed many sunny days in January, May and June. We have even experienced more than twenty consecutive days of heat waves (temperatures above 20 to 30 degrees) but also had the hottest May in 100 years.

This news, which may please some, has a bitter taste (starting with animals). Indeed, this is mostly related to global warming. Moreover, a city like Bergen, which is supposed to be quite rainy, is not predisposed to overcome such a dry and sunny climate. Fires, as it has already experienced a lot historically, can strongly threaten the city under these conditions.

Good to know

© NOAA: Average day duration per month

Days in winter can be very short or very long in summer. Especially in the latter season, there is no “night” as such but a nautical twilight. So the sky is not black on a summer evening.

Picture taken on June 27, 2018 at 11:41 pm in Bergen (Storevatnet lake)

During winter, don’t be surprised to discover that days start around 9 am and end at 3 pm. Habits are not the same from one season to another, and these variable rhythms can be quite confusing at first.

What are the solutions to this climate?

In winter, temperatures are moderate in Bergen, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cold. A great and effective solution for people who are sensitive to cold is the 3 layer rule. It consists of superimposing 3 layers of clothing.

1st layer

2nd layer

3rd layer

technical underwear

fleece vest or sweater, norwegians swear by wool

parka/jacket

One important thing about the third layer you will wear is that it must be waterproof.

Don’t forget the practical non-slip winter shoes against ice and slush.

Then, against rain during the mid-season:

  • a hooded jacket and waterproof shoes,
  • and a rain cover for your backpacks if you plan to do a lot of hiking

Also read : What clothes to bring in Norway?

Is it cold in Norway?

The answer to this question varies mainly according to your place of origin.

People from tropical countries will probably have to buy new clothes to protect themselves from this new climate. It will, therefore, be necessary to think about buying locally.

If you come from the Great White North, you will not have to complete your wardrobe. All the Canadians I met laughed at the “cold” winter weather in Bergen as temperatures in Norway are much milder.

 

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You can also share your testimonial about your experience in Norway or answer this survey to help future students.

Sources : Erasmus Bergen (my own experience), testimonials, brillantmaps, visitnorway, NOAA, visitoslo, worldweatheronline, theculturetrip.  

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