Hurricane hammered the holidays
December 26, 2011
One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Norway hammered coastal areas during the Christmas weekend and left a wide path of destruction throughout the south, west and northwest. Winds were clocked at more than 200 kilometers an hour, terrifying residents in many areas and leaving more than 100,000 homes without power.
Damage reports were still streaming in Monday afternoon, but were estimated to rise into the hundreds of millions of kroner. The storm known as Dagmar turned out to be much worse than the severe storm called Berit that rolled over much of western and northern Norway earlier this month.
Storm warnings had been issued since Friday, also for what the meteorologists called “extreme weather warnings.” While Oslo basked in sunshine most of Saturday and Sunday, the west and northwest coast were being assaulted by huge waves, flood tides and relentless winds.
“We’ve never been so scared,” one resident of Sunnmøre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday morning. “We really thought all the windows in the house would blow in. A huge tree fell over our car. And it was so dark.”
Officials were telling households from Hedmark in the south to Trøndelag in the north that it was unlikely power would be restored before Tuesday in many areas. The damage was so severe, with so many trees falling over key power lines, that the utility companies simply didn’t have capacity to get it all repaired. In the county of Møre og Romsdal, civil defense troops were summoned to help emergency crews locate damage and make repairs. The mobile phone network was also out of service in many areas.
The cities of Ålesund, Kristiansund and Molde were hit especially hard. Winds were so strong at the classic Ona Fyr (Lighthouse) off the coast of Romsdal that suddenly all measurements stopped. “You don’t need much fantasy to figure out that the wind did something to our equipment out there,” weather statistician Bernt Lie told NRK.
Most all ferry routes were suspended, nearly all the coastal voyage ships in the Hurtigruten line were staying tied up in harbours, most roads closed over the mountains and flights were suspended. Police were issuing warnings for all motorists to stay off the roads in the hardest hit areas of Romsdal, Trøndelag and even as far south and inland as Hedmark.
Oslo area hit, too
By Sunday afternoon and evening, the strong winds had reached the Oslo area as well, and many areas of the capital lost power including the hills around Holmenkollen, where the tram line was still out of service Monday afternoon. Passengers bound for Frognerseteren, a popular holiday destination, had to transfer over to makeshift bus lines, because of power outages and fallen trees blocking the tracks.
Scaffolding around construction sites at Kolsås in Bærum and in Drammen were toppled by the howling winds. Large areas of Romerike and Hurdal were left isolated when roads were blocked by fallen trees and marinas at Frognerkilen in Oslo were badly damaged.
There were no reports of death or injury by Monday afternoon, though. “We had 82 reports of storm damage but fortunately no one was hurt,” Petter Olausson of the Romerike Police District told NRK. “One man driving on Highway 120 experienced a tree hitting his car, but he avoided injury.”
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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