Avalanche threat closes roads, schools

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The danger of avalanches and smaller snow- and rockslides grew so acute on Monday that officials closed portions of key highways, several other roads and schools in parts of Møre og Romsdal. The famous town of Geiranger was completely isolated.

The state highway department decided to close Europavei 136 between Horgeheim and Bjorli in Romsdal, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday afternoon. Ivar Hoel of Statens Vegvesen said it “no longer is safe to drive in the area.”

A stretch of the highway between Måndalen and Våge was also due to be closed at night, from 8pm until 8am Tuesday, and more roads were under evaluation. Heavy snow and milder temperatures raised the threat of avalanches in the mountainous area.

Sunndal Township closed all its schools on Monday after tons of snow and ice crashed down a mountainside on to State Highway 79 near Oppdølsstranda and Hoelsanden. There were no reports of missing persons, but one car got trapped in the slide. 

It simply wasn’t safe for children to try to get to school because of a “major, general slide danger in Sunndalen.” Area roads throughout the area were vulnerable, said Ståle Refsti of Sunndal township.

It’s the off-season in Geiranger, at the end of the famous fjord with the same name, but concerns rose that the town was cut off on all sides. A slide blocked the road in and out of Geiranger in three places, and County Road 60 between Stranda and Hellesylt was also closed. Ferries were pressed into service at Hellesylt, reported NRK.

A woman was caught in an avalanche at Hemsedal over the weekend, but her skiing companions dug her out. Avalanche danger also was high in northern Norway, especially in Troms County, where two small towns were evacuated on Sunday.

By Views and News staff