How to beat the weather - travel tips
"General weather patterns"
When on a short visit to Norway, you don't want to have you precious and expensive holidays ruined by fog, wind and rain. There is this notion that the weather in Norway is bad - and that is partly true.
What I want to show here is that the weather differs from region to region, so there will always be a region that has nice weather. As I write this June 19 Oslo has driving rain and 10 degrees. Floro on the west coast has sunny, but windy and 15C. Bronnoysund up in the this part of Norway has a nice 20C and sunny, no wind. The northern tip of Norway has the same temperature as Oslo, about 10-12, but clear skies and probably splendid midnight sun. Conclusion: get out'a Oslo and the inland regions for the next 4-5 days! I'll try to form this into advice... An understanding of the climate here up north and thus the weather patterns may help you plan better for your trip, adjust your packing and determine your itinerary more precisely.
Generally, Norway's climate is heavily influenced by North Atlantic low pressure systems - on the weather map you can see the lows lined up from off New Foundland past Grenland, across Iceand and they hit the west coast of Norway. Along the same stretch flows the Gulf Current, warm Caribbean waters that keep the coast of Norway ice free and the winters are very mild compared to what it would be like at this latitude, normally.
The winds and the low pressures dump the rain, sleet and snow on the western fjords and mountains of southern Norway and pulls up the coast past More & Romsdal and Trondelag counties where the cold winds and drizzle can last for a long time. Under such conditions, inland southern Norway often enjoys nice, sunny weather, being in the rain shadow.
High pressure build-ups over western Siberia and Scandinavia can be long lasting and give splendid weather for long periods at the time, before again being pushed out of the way by North Atlantic lows. Winter high pressures over Siberia and the Arctic can give fantastic winter weather, sunny, crispy cold - too cold for most, especially inland Eastern and Northern Norway, where temperatures occasionally can drop to as low as -50C.
Central European bad summer weather (lows) tend to be equalized with southern Scandinavian high pressures - great weather, wam and nice. Winds from the east and south-east often give rain and in the winter snow over the south-eastern parts of Norway, but fantastic weather in the coastal parts of Norway from Stavanger up to Trondheim-Bodo area.
To view these half-truths and generalisations of mine, take a look at the web cameras at www.aftenposten.no/webcam/ . The opening page here gives you live sights from 8 cities all over Norway. In the column to the right of the web camera photo frames you will see "Norge" (Norway) and a list of the counties of Norway. Click here for a more detailed list of web cameras to view your destination. The text in the Norwegian merely tells the position and views (street and place names) of the camera you have chosen. Another set of web cams is provided by www.vg.no/foto/kamera , but I think Afternposten's is of better quality.
Distinct weather regions are:
1) Oslofjord area and south-eastern inland areas.
2) South coast and inland valleys and regions west of Oslo.
3) Central mountain chain in southern Norway.
4) Northern south-eastern Norway and mountain areas of Dovre-Rondane.
5) West coast of Norway north to Stadt ("the corner" of western Norway).
6) More & Romsdal and Trondelag counties.
7) Namdal, Saltfjellet and Helgeland coast north to the Arctic circle - Bodo area.
8) Lofoten, Vesteraalen islands.
9) Troms county, Western Finnmark and the northern fjords.
10) Inland Finnmark and Eastern Finnmark coast.
11) The Arctic islands/Spitsbergen.
You will find these weather regions reflected in the weather forecasts for Norway. When you know how the weather is in one region, you can make a qualified guess how it will become in another the next few days, and you can re-route your travel according to the weather. To confirm the weather conditions by checking web cameras in the areas you want to visit - see above.
"Travel planning - summer"
1) Good weather in the north of Norway - often bad in the south. Not necessarily so the opposite way.
2) Good weather in the Oslofjord and south-eastern Norway is often a strong indication of bad weather on the west coast.
3) Rainy weather and windy from the west near the southern tip of Norway will eventually reach the Oslofjord area.
4) Clear, sunny weather on the south coast will give very strong, cool onshore winds from mid day.
5) Wind from the north and northeast over southern Norway will give cold weather, and it could be rainy and grey.
6) Strong southern winds will give splendid weather in Sogn&Fjordane, More&Romsdal and Trondelag counties.
7) After a week of nice weather on the coast north of Stadt, all the way north, cold ocean fog will roll in over the outer coastal areas while the inland remains fine.
8) North and north-east winds will make temperatures drop down to as low as 10-5C along the northern and western coast as far south as Stadt.
9) Southwest winds give rain on the west coast up to Trondheim
10) Strong west-north west winds may give a warming foehn effect over eastern south Norway.
It is very difficult to give exact advice based on averages for this time of the year. However, as an indication, around 25 July shows the highest average temperatures in Norway.
See the west coast in late May-June is a general advice. The area between Sognefjord and Stavanger gets very rainy in July and August. Hike in the mountains of southern Norway in July-August. Otherwise, follow the weather pattern described and run for the upcoming nice-weather area.
"Travel planning autumn"
1) The autumn weather is inherently instable, but always seem to include a period or two of very clear, crisp air over southern Norway within September-October. Northern and eastern winds cause this.
2) Low pressures are dominant and increasingly strong during the autumn. The most violent storms take place in October, November and into December.
3) Strong winds from southeast and east lead to a warm foehn effect on the western side of the mountains from Trondheim to Bergen.
4) ..... cont'd
The best way to travel is to hit the nice weather periods and to the areas that actually have them. Be flexible, ready to change destination, and to stay put at the nice-weather destination. If you like rough weather and the early winter mood take the coastal express liner or go to the mountains. You will not competer with many other tourists.
"Travel planning winter"
1) The south Norway inland winter is quite stable, cold and dry. Most of the snow has arrived in November and December, but keeps rnewing as brief blizzards.
2) Northern Norway's inland is also rather stable, and Finnmarksvidda can be very cold.
3) The coastal areas, including Oslo are humid and slushy, the predominantly western winds dumping much snow in the mountains.
4) Mid-Norways' (centering on Trondheim) weather is very unstable, with shifting conditions and diffciult road conditions.
The best place to visit in winter is inland Troms, Finnmark counties in the north, and eastern inland south Norway limited by Roros (north), Hemsedal (west) and lake Mjosa/Elverum (south). Places to avoid is the south coast and the west coast generally.
"Travel planning spring"
1) Generally unstable weather, especially in mid Norway.
2) Into May, the west coast fjords centering on Bergen have the nicest weather of the year.
"Dress for the climate"
When you plan for a short visit to Norway, use weather forcasts, web cameras and the bits of logic above to determine where you want to go. Call the local tourist office for advice, and then book.
With more time at hand and an itinerary that is more flexible, juggle your activites and itinerary according to the weather, if you are sensitive to the weather. Say, you want to visit the mountains or go hiking and you start from Oslo. If the weather in Oslo is very bad you can bank on mountains and towns in the western and northwestern parts of Norway (from 5 to 8 hrs drive away) to be nice and sunny. If it is nice in Oslo, you can be equally sure it's quite ok in the eastern mountains of southern Norway and toward Stavanger and Eastern Hardangervidda as well.
Line up your things you want to see and see how you can rearrange your trip if you don't like the weather.
The weather forecast: Weather forecast