Looking back and looking forward—adapting to extreme weather events in municipalities in western Norway

October 2021
Regional environmental change

In October 2014, an extreme precipitation event hit western Norway, which caused flooding, landslides and severe damage to infrastructure and houses. Climate model projections for western Norway show that heavy precipitation events, such as the one in 2014, will increase in frequency and intensity in the future. This paper discusses barriers to proactive adaptation to high-impact weather events in two municipalities in western Norway. Interviews were conducted with representatives from municipalities in this region to understand the adaptation measures the municipalities had implemented after this event and the barriers to proactive adaptation to extreme events in the future. We found that the key barriers to proactive adaptation are lack of resources, lack of knowledge and lack of willingness to adapt. The magnitude of the event meant that only a few of the informants expected the municipality to be hit by such an extreme event again in the near future, and as such, they did not see a need for major adaptation measures. Further, some assumed that the municipality was sufficiently protected because their areas either were not directly affected or were secured after the event. Finally, some interviewees assumed that it is not possible to adapt to such high-magnitude events.