Storm halted trains and Games, lengthy heat wave over for now

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A ferocious thunderstorm that struck Oslo Friday night disrupted traffic, forced a pause in the annual Bislett Games and ultimately brought an end to the heat wave that had left southern Norway sweltering for days.

The storm rolled in from the north around 7pm and left a wave of destruction and stunned residents as it swept quickly over the capital.

An estimated 2,000 lightning bolts struck in the course of an hour, according to state meteorologists, accompanied by loud thunder. Temperatures plummeted from nearly 30C to less than 20C in some places, as strong winds suddenly started gusting and torrential rain fell along with hail.

At the northern end of Maridalen, a scenic valley that runs north of downtown, it got so dark that the lights turned on at the Movatn train station. Birch trees were whipped nearly into horizontal position, and some fell over along with fir trees, blocking the road up to the small residential area of Sørbråten.

The storm kept moving south and by 7:20pm it descended on the area around Bislett Stadium, where the annual Bislett Games, a Golden League international track and field competition, was just getting underway. Organizers had to call a time-out until the storm passed. By 8pm it was bearing down on the Drammen area.The storm cut power to around 40,000 homes in the Oslo and Romerike areas and disrupted both train and tram service. At least two homes were struck by lightning and state railway NSB was still struggling on Saturday to repair damaged signal systems and get trains back on schedule.

High temperatures settled in again on Saturday, but didn’t last long. More rain started to fall during the night and by Sunday, Oslo was awash in a steady downpour with temperatures back down in the high teens and low 20s. It was a welcome relief for many locals who aren’t accustomed to the heat of the past week. The state meteorologic institute reported that such streaks of unusually hot weather have only occurred five times in the past 60 years, in 1955, 1970, 1975, 1982 and last summer.

Forecasts for the rest of this week called for continued showers, temperatures in the high teens and a possible storm on Thursday.