Severe storm rams the southwest

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Hurricane-force winds, huge waves and heavy rain hammered Norway’s southern and western coasts as predicted on Saturday. More than 20,000 households were without power, flights were grounded, ferries cancelled and nearly all roads over the mountains were closed as the extreme weather system known as “Nina” slammed into the country.

PHOTO: Oslo Lufthavn AS/Espen Solli

Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen has an army of snowplows but couldn’t manage to keep runways open Saturday morning. Extreme weather was causing even worse problems on the southern and western coasts. PHOTO: Oslo Lufthavn AS/Espen Solli

The wind knocked down trees that in turn dragged down power lines, leaving 8,000 homes without power in Hordaland along with thousands more in Agder, Rogaland and Sogn og Fjordane. Police warned residents to stay indoors and feared that anyone venturing near the coast risked being swept into sea. Loose items flying through the air could also have fatal consequences, they warned.

Most all flights were cancelled from west coast airports while Flesland in Bergen was forced to close. Winds were so strong in Bergen that they tore the spire off the 750-year-old Rosenkrantz Tower at Håkonshallen on the inner harbour. One witness told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that it seemed like the sea was washing over the harbour, flooding the waterfront.

Bridges closed
Several local bridges were also closed because of the winds and Telenor reported that all its base stations in Austevoll were knocked out of operation, disrupting mobile phone communications. Sea levels rose to such high levels at Rosendal in Hardanger that boathouses along the coast were half-way submerged.

In Rogaland County, the roof blew off a shopping center and damaged a football stadium. Police in Haugesund warned residents of flying objects at Risøy and all ferry traffic was halted.

At Lindesnes at the southern tip of Norway, waves estimated at eight to 10 meters high were crashing over the rocky shoreline at the historic Lindesnes Lighthouse. More than 5,000 households in the county of Vest-Agder were without power and officials were calling the storm “dangerous.”

Storm moving east and north
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that state meteorologists said the storm they’d warned about late in the week was proving to be stronger than they’d expected, and would also move into eastern Norway during the evening. Residents of Østfold, Buskerud and Vestfold counties were warned to prepare for full storm.

Coastal areas were advised that sea levels were also high and rising quickly, also in Oslo, where residents woke up to a surprise, heavy snowstorm on Saturday morning. The heavy wet snow had stopped falling by midday and temperatures rose, melting much of it and causing some local flooding.

The heavy snow also disrupted traffic at Norway’s gateway airport, Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen, on Saturday when emergency crews couldn’t manage to keep runways open. The airport was forced to close for a while, leading to delays throughout the day.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund