Roads turned into rivers, avalanche danger soared and highway crews were having a very hard time battling the elements as the storm called “Mons” doused Nordland and other northern counties. The extreme weather system this week sparked traffic chaos as slick ice settled on streets and sidewalks.
Despite repeated warnings to motorists and major preparedness efforts by the state highway department, roads had to be closed in many areas. “The road turned into a river,” said Jon Paul Paulsen, who got caught with emergency crew colleagues on County Highway 17 at Flostrand north of Utskarpen in Rana.
He told state broadcaster NRK on Wednesday that they’d headed out to check on road conditions when they landed in the middle of a landslide. He also told of how rivers that flooded over their banks suddenly set course down adjacent roadways.
Rain turned to ice on frozen asphalt, also at OSL
The pouring rain from “Mons” came on top of recent snowfall, turning other roads into long ribbons of ice. Similar conditions caused traffic chaos in local communities and even as far south as Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen. Skies were mostly clear on Wednesday in the Oslo area, but some highly unusual rain fell on Tuesday afternoon at a time when ground temperatures at the airport were minus-7C. That instantly turned runways and tarmacs into ice, forcing the airport to close for around an hour. Flights were running again mostly as scheduled later in the evening and on Wednesday morning.
As predicted, the coastal areas of Helgeland from Trøndelag north to Bodø were hit hardest by the storm, which also sent heavy wet snow and ice sliding down hillsides onto the roads. The main E6 highway was closed through Hemnes in Nordland after several cars got stuck in such a slide between the Breivikhammer tunnel and Finneidfjord north og Bjerka. More slides closed the road at Lia in Lurøy and the stretch between Eidhagen and Tonnes.
‘Just stay home’
Nord-Trøndelag was also hit by slides and flooding and the Nordlandsbanen train line had to reduce speed between Grong and Harran because of the heavy precipitation.
Avalanche danger remained high in all mountain areas, especially in Troms, where more heavy rainfall and strong winds were expected through New Year’s Day. Roads were still closed on Senja as were many mountain passes in Finnmark.
Ann Line Finanger of the Helgeland Police District urged motorists to drive extremely carefully because of “lots of water and solid ice many places.” Paulsen, of the road crew, urged people to “just stay home. The roads just aren’t driveable right now.” State meteorologists predicted the stormy weather would continue through New Year’s Day.