Flood blocks major Telemark highway

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More than 20 homes were isolated and the E134 highway was blocked at Sauland in Telemark County Tuesday afternoon, after more heavy rain set off flooding that threatened to sweep away a bridge. The airport at Notodden was also closed because of flooding.

The Notodden Airport's webcam offered this photo of the flooding on Tuesday afternoon, blurred by rain on the lens. PHOTO: Notodden flyplass

The Notodden Airport’s webcam offered this photo of the flooding on Tuesday afternoon, blurred by rain on the lens. PHOTO: Notodden flyplass

The E134 highway, a major traffic artery between eastern and western Norway, was closed near Omnesfossen between Sauland and Notodden. Parts of central Sauland were also under water.

The neighbourhood of Frølandsgrenda in Sauland was without any road connection, as the heavy rains were in the process of washing it out on Tuesday. Rune Engehult of Hjartdal township asked residents of Frølandsgrenda not to attempt passing the roadblocks set up. “There’s around 30 centimeters of water over the roadway,” he told state broadcaster NRK.

Sauland is located 23 kilometers north of Notodden, which was also drenched in the latest powerful rain storm to hit the area in recent weeks. As floodwaters continued to rise, the township formed a crisis team to deal with the area’s second major emergency in as many weeks.

Local newspaper Varden reported that the Notodden Airport was forced to close because of flooded runways, which prompted some jokes to circulate on social media that the airport was suddenly only suitable for seaplanes. It’s the second time in less than two weeks that the airport was closed because of heavy rains and flooding. The country road FV152 that runs past the airport was also closed.

State meteorologists had warned of the heavy rains moving in, with even more due on Thursday. Siri Wilberg Horjen of the state meteorological institute said the most intense rain so far has fallen on the northern areas of Telemark. She said that more than 100 millimeters of rains had fallen during the past 24 hours and that a new powerful low pressure system was forecast for Thursday, with at least another 50 millimeters of rain expected.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund