Hazards abound as roads turned to ice

Police in nearly all the counties of southern and central Norway were posting warnings Thursday morning that roads and highways were so slippery that even the trucks sent out to salt and gravel them were sliding out of control. Motorists were strongly urged to leave their vehicles parked.

The situation was especially serious in the counties of Agder, Telemark and Buskerud, but Trøndelag was hit hard, too, by a sudden rise in temperatures accompanied by rain during the night. That turned frozen pavements into icy skating rinks before road crews could get out to spread salt, sand and gravel.

Bus routes halted
One of the state highway department’s trucks ran off the road between Drangedal and Bostrak in Telemark County. A school bus carrying children also slid off the highway between Bø and Lunde in Telemark, where many other motorists also were stranded in their cars following frightening periods of spinning out of control. Winter tires mounted on their vehicles didn’t help, and anyone getting out of their cars also risked falling flat.

The conditions made it difficult for ambulance crews to reach the scenes of several accidents, but most collisions resulted in minor injuries. Bus and several truck drivers opted to just stop where they were until road conditions improved, but that blocked key arteries and led to what police called “chaos” not least in Kragerø, on the southern coast. That’s where two trucks spun to a stop across both lanes of traffic at Kalstad, blocking the road and the entrance to an industrial area.

Problems around Oslo, too
The cities of Tønsberg, Porsgrunn and Skien were also the sites of several accidents. The state emergency road service Vegtrafikksentralen told state broadcaster NRK that all available crews were dispatched in the counties of Vestfold and Telemark and that conditions had improved on the main E18 highway by late morning. It remained dangerously slippery on side roads however.

Driving conditions were also hazardous in the mountains, with warnings up for highways over Dovre and in Valdres and Ottadalen. As the rain and drizzle moved north from Sørlandet Thursday, warnings were going up in Akershus and Østfold counties and around Oslo as well. Police in the area were repeating calls for motorists to simply avoid driving.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund