Millions of South Africans are turning to Norway to get their weather forecasts – here’s why
· South Africa is one of the largest audiences for the Norwegian weather site Yr.no
· The number of SA users have exploded from 5,000 to more than 3 million
· The Norwegian weather site, trusted by the massive North Sea oil industry, provides hour-by-hour forecasts nine days ahead
The Norwegian weather service has a large and unlikely group of avid followers on the other side of the world.
In the past year, more than three million South Africans have logged on to the Norwegian government-owned yr.no to get their weather forecasts.
The century-old Norwegian Meteorological Institute uses intricate modelling based on data collected from satellites and buoys. (It operated the last remaining weather ship in the world until 2010.) North Sea oil drilling rigs depend on its detailed weather predictions.
The weather service, along with the Norwegian state broadcaster, launched Yr (the Norwegian word for drizzle) almost a decade ago, and, soon after, the website managers noticed that South Africans were among its top users. From 5,000 South African users in April 2009, this has exploded to 3,037,678 users by February 2018. The largest group of users are from the Western Cape.
Almost 264,000 South Africans are now using the yr.no app – an increase of 14% from the previous year. After Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Czech Republic, South Africa represents the biggest group of users – exceeding those from Germany and the UK.
Yr is popular among South Africans due to its accurate long-term forecasts, which include hour-by-hour weather expectations nine days ahead. It also assists South Africans with detailed reports for remote areas not usually covered by our local weather reports. (Examples: Brandvlei airfield in the Karoo and the Quthing river basin in Lesotho.) Yr.no provides forecasts for seven million places.
Yr is now the largest free weather service in the world, and Ingrid Støver Jensen, its head of product development and editor, believes the platform’s success is due to the fact that it develops new functions and features in close connection with its users.
“They give us lots of feedback to help us understand their needs. Users tell us that the reason they choose Yr is that we give them updated, user friendly and reliable weather prognosis.”