Capital digs out after heavy snowfall

Bookmark and Share

Weeks of near-constant snowfall have all but overwhelmed Oslo’s ability to keep streets and sidewalks clear. City officials don’t want to dump snow straight into the fjord anymore, for environmental reasons, but the capital’s sole snow depot filled up and dumping occurred anyway. Skiers, meanwhile, are enjoying a season to remember.

After a brief respite on Friday, it started snowing again during the night and literally all day on Saturday. Weather forecasters predicted at least 15 more centimeters during the weekend.

There’s currently more than half-a-meter of snow at Blindern in Oslo, site of the University of Oslo’s main campus and the state Meteorological Institute. Officials there haven’t measured so much snow in years, and drifts are also heavy right down to the waterfront.

Local sports clubs were able to prepare cross-country skiing trails on the Bygdøy Peninsula, where the Viking Ships and Folk Museum are housed, for the first time in around 30 years.

While skiers are jubilant, however, even seasoned veterans agree that it’s getting increasingly difficult to get around town. Snow-clearing crews have barely been able to keep up with demand and pedestrians literally have to trudge through the drifts to get to work and school. Higher temperatures on Saturday quickly turned much of the snow into heavy, wet masses of what the Norwegians call slaps.

That’s after an estimated 12,000 truckloads of snow already have been cleared from city streets and dumped at Oslo’s sole snow depot at Åsland off the E6 highway. The depot contained some 250,000 cubic meters of snow by the end of last week and can’t handle much more.

“If the weather continues like this, we’ll manage through next week but then we’re full,” Tom Kristoffersen of the city’s transportation department told newspaper Aftenposten. He doesn’t think the snow will melt away until September.