The Viking Ship Museum is preparing for the storm 'Malik' and high water levels

Published 28th Jan 2022

Storm Malik is due to hit Denmark this weekend and forecasts predict that the area around the Viking Ship Museum will be affected by very high water-levels Sunday afternoon.

Friday afternoon, and once again there is a flurry of activity to protect the Viking Ship Museum from the oncoming storm. DMI (the Danish Meteorological Institute) have warned of expected water-levels of 183 cm above daily water levels Sunday afternoon, as a result of Storm Malik. If their predictions hold, it will be the second highest water-level ever recorded at the Viking Ship Museum.

“We’re putting watertubes in place today, Friday”, tells Tom Nicolajsen, interim leader of the Viking Ship Museum’s emergency planning group. “It’s much easier to lay out the watertubes in calm weather and the wind is due to pick up already from tomorrow, Saturday”.

Emergency plan level 4

The Viking Ship Museum is making preparations in line with emergency plan level 4. Just one week ago, the emergency group was activated, where watertubes were lain out on the north side of the Museum Island and by the basement ramp at the Viking Ship Hall. That was level 2.

“This time, we’re putting out watertubes the whole way around the Museum Island, around the Viking Ship Hall, and out towards the fjord we’ll be using two layers of watertubes”, explains Tom Nicolajsen.

Volunteer boat guild members lend a hand

Saturday morning, a group of volunteers from the Museum’s boat guilds will meet up to help raise ropes, ships’ chests and other sailing equipment up from floor-level in the storage areas that lie outside of the watertubes. “Unfortunately, not all of our buildings can be protected by the watertubes as they extend right to the water’s edge”. These buildings are non-isolated ‘cold buildings’, used for storage and here, the focus will be on saving their contents.

A plea to ’storm visitors’

The Viking Ship Museum will remain open for visitors both Saturday and Sunday, as will Café Knarr.

“It can look a little ridiculous, with the big red ‘water sausages’ lying in the way when you walk around the Museum site”, tells Rikke Johansen, Press Officer at the Viking Ship Museum. It is absolutely vital that people don’t try to climb over the flood defences. “The watertubes can be damaged if you step on them and if they spring a leak, then we’re really in trouble”, concludes Rikke Johansen.

The Viking ships will be covered over Sunday

DMI expect Storm Malik to last from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning. And that the water-levels will then continue to rise to ca. 180 cm during the course of Sunday afternoon, as the water-levels peak later than the winds do, here at the bottom of Roskilde fjord.

Sunday morning, the Viking Ship Museum will hold an emergency meeting and make a plan of action for dealing with the rising waters. But the preparations are already underway here, before the storm kicks off.

The Viking Ship Hall’s large window facing out onto the fjord has been reinforced with large wooden panels, which are held in place by a solid wooden construction along the length of the lowest third of the façade. This ‘storm surge wall’ stands permanently in place in the Viking Ship Hall during the whole winter.

When forecasts predict water-levels of over 170 cm, as is the case on Sunday, the original Viking ships must be covered up with plastic. This is a difficult job, which must be carried out with extreme care so that the fragile ships’ parts don’t sustain any damage.

“The process of covering the ships with plastic is a technique we have developed in collaboration with conservators from the National Museum”, tells Anne Christine Sørensen, Head of Collections at the Viking Ship Museum. “The plastic will ensure that the Viking ships will be protected from spray in the event that one of the windows should crack when the waves hit the glass façade”.

The Viking Ship Hall has also been protected by watertubes and powerful pumps have been borrowed from Roskilde Fire Service. The pumps will remove water from the Museum’s basement, as previous storms have shown that water seeps up through the Museum’s foundations during high-water events such as these.

The crew are ready

The Museum’s staff have been called in to deal with all of these tasks and a roster has been drawn up so that the site will be manned from now until Sunday night, when the water-levels are due to have receded again.

We will post regular updates on the Museum’s Facebook page:

Created by Rikke Tørnsø Johansen