Early snow took many by surprise

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Last weekend the temperatures around much of southern Norway remained summer-like. This weekend they plummeted and snow was falling at just 400 meters over sea level. That made trips home from the mountains hazardous for thousands of folks returning from

høstferie , the traditional week of autumn holidays.

“I’ve been telling some people to take the train home,” state meteorologist Bjart Eriksen told newspaper Aftenposten on Sunday. He and his colleagues received numerous calls from people who woke up at their mountain cottages to find their yards and local roads covered with slippery snow — and they still had summer tires on their cars.

“People always seem to forget that the weather can change quickly in the mountains,” a spokesman for the state highway department told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Driving conditions change quickly as well.

By Saturday, conditions were already dangerous. A bus driver had found that out even earlier in the week, when he lost control and ran off the roadnear Grotli. One passenger was killed and several others injured.

The roads were treacherous in Gudbrandsdalen, Oppdal, Fagernes and several other mountain areas. Some roads closed, also because of poor visibility. Meteorologists said the snow was likely to remain lying on the roads through this week, meaning it wasn’t just a matter of postponing a return trip by a day or two.

Nordmarka, the hills and forests just north of Oslo, also was dusted with snow during the night on Friday. It remained on the ground Saturday in many areas including Mylla, which lies at about 500 meters above sea level.

Meanwhile, in western Norway, stormy weather forced several ferry cancellations including the cruise ferry from Tananger to Denmark. Waves in the Skagerrak were predicted to hit seven meters (about 23 feet). Strong winds blasted the coast of Rogaland as far south as Lindesnes.

The sun reappeared over Oslo Sunday morning but disappeared by late afternoon. Clear weather was predicted for most of the southern coastal areas on Monday, with showers or even sleet returning on Tuesday.