Snowstorm shuts mountain roads

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UPDATED: State highway officials were reporting Wednesday morning that all highways over the mountains of Southern Norway were either closed or restricted to convoy driving, because of hazardous weather conditions. Snow and strong winds were still creating traffic chaos Wednesday evening, and stranding many motorists.

This was the scene Tuesday night on state highway RV50 over Hemsedalsfjellet. It was one of only two roads open to escorted convoy driving, while most all other mountain highways were closed by snow and strong winds. PHOTO: Statens vegvesen webcam

Both the highway officials and police were urging motorists to give up trying to drive either east or west at high elevations between Bergen and Oslo. Even the main E16 highway, which includes many tunnels, was restricted to driving only in escorted convoys in the portion running over Filefjellet.

Other main mountain passes including the E134 over Haukelifjell were closed, along with RV7 over Hardanger, RV13 over Vikafjellet and RV15 over Strynefjellet. Driving was restricted to escorted convoys over Hemsedalsfjellet, but officials warned it could close at any time as the winds sent snow drifting over the highway.

Truck driver Pål Svendsen was among those stuck in long traffic queues trying to get over Hemsedalsfjellet. “I’ve been waiting for well over an hour and haven’t heard anything about when we can proceed,” Svendsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Randi Skonseng and Anne Kari Ruud gave up, managed to turn around and got a hotel room in Hemsedal for the night. They’ll try to get over to Western Norway on Thursday.

The county roads FV50 and FV53 from Hol to Aurland and Tyen to Årdal respectively were both closed as well. None of the roads closed Wednesday morning had reopened by Wednesday evening.

“The mountain highways are plagued by the bad weather,” Hanne Norheim of the state highway department Statens vegvesen told Norwegian Broadcastig (NRK). She warned anyone setting off on a trip over the mountains to expect lengthy delays and have plenty of warm clothing, food and drink inside the passenger compartment. The best thing, she suggested, was to “let your cars stay parked at home.”

It was brilliantly sunny, if windy, in Oslo and most of eastern Norway on Wednesday morning, while the West Coast was being slammed by rain and the storm that made the weather so bad in the mountains. Norheim said the forecast for Thursday was better, though, and she hoped most motorists would postpone any trips by a day.

newsinenglish.no staff