Summer suddenly marches in
May 19, 2010
Temperatures all over Norway have suddenly shot up in recent days, bringing both a long-awaited taste of summer but destruction as well. The warm weather wasn’t expected to last very long, and while some Oslo residents pondered a jump into the fjord, rapidly melting snow and ice was causing trouble in northern Norway.
After relatively nippy 17th of May celebrations, thermometers rose on Tuesday and were expected to hit as high as 25C in some areas of southeastern Norway (Østlandet) on Wednesday. Some skinny dippers were actually spotted on the nudist beach on Oslo’s Bygdøy peninsula on Tuesday, even though the temperature in the recently thawed water was bracing at best.
They’re clearly tempted by the first warm weather to follow what ranked as one of the coldest and longest winters on record. Last year, the weather warmed up long before the 17th of May, but meteorologists report that this year’s average temperature so far in May was just 8.6C, until this week.
Don’t blame the volcano
Climate researcher Hans Olav Hygen rejects theories, however, that this year’s chill has been caused by the volcano in Iceland. “The ash clouds are small and are lying too low to function as a climate shield,” Hygen told newspaper Aftenposten. “We must blame cold air from the Arctic instead.”
That cold air may return this weekend, so locals were being advised to enjoy the warm weather while they can. A sudden spike in high temperatures in northern Norway was already said to be “over for this time,” while meteorologists predicted relatively balmy temperatures of around 15-17C in western Norway.
The recent warm spell up north has set off snow- and rockslides, prompted police to tell people to drop any plans for hiking or skiing in the mountains and led to flash floods. The E6 highway was badly hit by a rockslide at Røykenes, north of Skibotn, in Troms County and was closed in two places. Several other roads were also blocked by slides, and some communities were left isolated.
Norway’s northernmost train line, Nordlandsbanen, was blocked after a rapid melt washed away the ground under tracks near Lyngen.
All three counties in the north (Nordland, Troms and Finnmark) were plagued by flooding, snow- and rockslides because of the rapidly melting snow and ice, reported news bureau NTB. Some families were evacuated and rainfall was adding to the flood danger.
“The melting is occurring under the snow,” Troms Police Chief Truls Fyhn told newspaper Aftenposten. “That puts strong and dangerous forces into motion.”