Cold snap may last for three weeks

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Sub-freezing temperatures down to as low as minus-20C are expected to grip southern Norway well into January, according to state meteorologists. While Oslo basked in midday sunshine, thermometers were already down to minus-13C on Tuesday and welfare officials were urging residents to help elderly neighbors avoid isolation.

Anne Myhr, Oslo’s eldreombud, worries that some elderly Norwegians living alone may not keep indoor temperatures up high enough and may be afraid or unable to venture outdoors because of extreme cold and slippery sidewalks. A trip to the local grocery store for basic provisions may suddenly be a daunting task.

“Home health care workers must be extra observant,” Myhr told newspaper Dagsavisen . “I also encourage family and neighbors to be generous and offer to help.”

Eli Filseth, acting health and welfare chief in Oslo, said many elderly receive welfare services at home, from house-cleaning to medical assistance, and they’ll continue to get regular visits. She told Dagsavisen staffers must “of course” keep an eye out for any special problems caused by the cold weather.

“It’s important to check that indoor temperatures are adequate, and we’ll advise against turning down the heat because they fear what the bill will be,” Filseth said. She also urged elderly residents who don’t already receive home care services to contact their local social services office if they need assistance.

It’s been several years since Oslo underwent a lengthy period of bitterly cold weather, so health care workers were also advising residents of all ages to dress in layers, wear hats and gloves and make sure children are well-dressed with faces, hands and feet covered up.

Ski association officials, who normally are urging folks to get out and exercise on the trails, were advising only short ski trips of not much more than two hours because of the cold weather called sprengkulde in Norwegian.

Weather forecasts called for little fresh snow and mostly clear skies around Oslo, but temperatures of at least five degrees colder than normal.