When weather becomes a passion

Roar Inge Hansen

Roar Inge Hansen was the first meteorologist to be employed by StormGeo. For founder Siri Kalvig, he was the proof that her idea of ​​a private Norwegian weather company had the right of life.

– I will always be grateful that he dared to say yes to us. It’s so … can you imagine I’m 27 years old and will hire him, and it’s a startup company, a huge risk. But he had faith in it, Kalvig shakes her head and smiles.

Siri Kalvig

It is 20 years since Roar Inge said yes to Siri. She not only got a meteorologist on the team, she got one who has the weather as passion.

Tuesday, October 16th, we join Roar Inge on a trip to mount Gullfjellet east of Bergen. The summit, 988 meters up, is a popular hiking destination. But Roar Inge is not going for the view, he is going to check his rain gauges.

Roar Inge running up to mount Gullfjellet

When Roar Inge moved from Sunnmøre on the western coast of Norway to Bergen further south, he quickly discovered that it did rain more in some parts of the city than in others.

He had to figure this out, and in 2004 Roar Inge set up his first rain gauges. First around the city itself, and a few years later, also out in the hills and mountains around.

Roar Inge began measuring rainfall when he was just boy, outside the family house in Brandal on Sunnmøre. After a few years of measuring using a simple cup and a notebook, he wrote to the Meteorological Institute and told them about his hobby.

His letter made the garden of his home in Brandal an official Norwegian measurement station.

One day, a Meteorological institute official knocked on the door. With him he had a professional rain gauge. It was Roar Inge he wanted to get hold of, but he was off doing his military service.

– My mother could not say no …

– They wanted to set up a gauge with us, and my mother could not say no. She measured rainfall for them for more than 16 years, until she retired 67 years old, says Hansen.

The first gauges Roar Inge set up in Bergen were also simple buckets that collected the rainfall. If he wanted daily results, he had to check the buckets daily. The rain gauges Roar Inge is checking today are automatic, and can collect minute by minute data for weeks.

The gauge has a funnel on top, that leads the water through an opening and into the gauge. The water drips into cups fixed on a lever, like a pair of scales. When a cup is full, the lever tips over and the other cup is filled up. Each cup holds 0.25 milliliters, and every time the lever tips, it is registered by a small data logger inside the gauge.

It is the content of these data loggers Roar Inge is up in the mountain to download.

– I have eleven gauges in operation scattered around Bergen, so it takes a lot of time to go around downloading data, he smiles.

How can it be that someone who works with the weather all day chooses to spend his spare time doing this, we ask.

– I’m just very curious and like to figure out things. Why it rain so much more up here than down in Bergen puzzles me.

Roar Inge measures rainfall along a corridor from Bergen going east into the mountains. His results show that the precipitation increases by 50 percent in just ten kilometres. Up here on mount Gullfjellet it rains 70 percent more than in the city center.

– The meteorologists knew that it was raining more on Gullfjellet than in the city, but not that there was such a big difference, Roar Inge explains.

– I’m just very curious

Roar Inge is also concerned with how rainfall increases with the height. His results show that Western Norway is not like the rest of the country.

– Here the precipitation increases less with the height than elsewhere. That is an important fact for a meteorologist, he says, and continues.

– Perhaps the most interesting thing is that it rains more on the leeward side of the mountains than on the windward side here in the western part of the country.

In September, one of Roar Inges gauges set an unofficial national record. A story picked up by the local media.

During September three of the gauges on Gullfjellet measured more than 900 millimetres of precipitation. The station at Gullfjelltjørna a total of 960 millimetres. This is well above the official national September record of 929 millimetres, measured in Hovlandsdal in Sogn og Fjordane in 1975.

Roar Inge Hansen

How long will you continue doing this?

The question confuses Roar Inge.

– Continue? Sure I will continue. I hope that I can eventually use gauges that send data to me via the telecommunications network, but first the mobile coverage in the mountains must improve.

Roar Inge packs his backpack, he needs to go on. Three more gauges has to be checked today, one of them 550 meters up the mountain side. The trip takes several hours, and the 60-year-old has to run between the gauges to get to all before it gets dark.

– This is my most important tool. Roar Inge show us his automatic gauge

This article is written by Scary weather for StormGeo