After a string of dark and foggy days, the sun finally made an appearance in Oslo again on the day after the winter solstice. Thousands of travelers heading for jul (Christmas) celebrations, however, were warned of storms in the mountains and along the west coast.
State meteorologists were urging motorists planning to drive over mountains between western and eastern Norway to get as early a start as possible. Strong winds and otherwise welcome snow were already forcing intermittent closures of key mountain highways inckuding RV7 over Hardangervidda. State highway officials were only allowing cars over the mountains in escorted convoys Thursday morning.
More roads may be closed on lillejulaften (Little Christmas Eve) on Friday, so Thursday departures were advised. “Get going early, drive carefully and have plenty of warm clothes and food availabe in the car, in case of delays,” was the advice from the state meteorological institute and highway authorities.
“The Christmas weekend will be plagued by wind and stormy weather,” meteorologist Frode Hassel told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Convoy driving was also in place on the E134 over Haukelifjell because of poor visibility. The same could be imposed “at any time” on RV52 over Hemsedalsfjellet. RV13 over Vikafjellet was already closed Thursday morning because of bad weather.
There has been an unusual lack of snow in many areas because of abnormally warm temperatures in recent weeks, so ski resorts were looking forward to some fresh snow for the holidays. The state highway department (Statens vegvesen) reported snow and ice on all mountain roads.
The storms along the coast also forced cancellation of several Hurtigruten sailings. The MS Kong Harald cancelled calls at all ports between Trondheim and Bergen from December 23-26. Several fast ferries between Bergen and Nordfjord announced that the weather was expected to be so bad that no children under the age of 12 will be allowed to travel alone.
The stormy weather was mostly forecast for the west coast from Bergen and north but winds were also predicted to be strong and water levels high all along the southwest coast and up into the Oslo Fjord. The weather was predicted to calm a bit on Sunday but winds would pick up again on Monday, also a national holiday.
After some rain Friday night, the Oslo area was due for more sunshine and little if any precipitation, but no snow was in the forecast. The snow that fell in November has melted away, so skiers were disappointed, as were those dreaming of a white Christmas.