Families trapped in car for 15 hours

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Two adults and three children ended up spending 15 hours inside one of their cars after the Norwegian mountain highway where they were driving was blocked first by one avalanche and then by another. 

The two cars were hemmed in by the snow and ice that covered state highway RV13 near Røldalsvatnet in Hordaland County, western Norway, reported newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad.

Avalanche danger has been high all over southern Norway this week, because of heavy snow, rapidly changing temperatures and strong winds. For the Kleiveland and Tomasgard families, it meant spending the night in the car until emergency crews could plow through the snow that covered the road and free them.

Shared food and company
The occupants of both cars had plenty of warm clothing but the Tomasgard family didn’t have much food with them. “Fortunately they had food in the other car, so we got breakfast from them,” Geir Tomasgard told Stavanger Aftenblad.

He and his seven-year-old son Jacob were on their way to visit Jacob’s grandmother in Odda when the snow blocked their way. At around 9:30pm, the Kleiveland family, on their way to their hytte (cabin), drove up behind them.

“We had driven from Jørpeland and there was already another car stopped on the road,” Jostein Kleiveland said. “We sat and waited for awhile, but then decided to turn around and drive back. Then the other avalanche hit.”

“We weren’t scared right then, but when I think about it now, it was rather frightening,” he told Stavanger Aftenblad. “We couldn’t see a thing, and another avalanche could come at any time.”

More roads closed
As it turned out, all five occupants of the two cars rode it out. Since the Kleivelands were heading for a holiday at their hytte, they not only had food in the car but also crossword puzzles and even a laptop computer, to help pass the time.

Several mountain roads were closed on Friday because of bad weather and avalanche danger, just as residents of eastern Norway are winding up a week of winter holiday and residents of western Norway are beginning their annual holiday week off. Highway officials warned that roads that were open could close at short warning, or suddenly require driving only in convoys.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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