Motorists spent the night in a tunnel

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More than 200 motorists were forced the spend an uncomfortable night stuck in a tunnel through a mountain in southern Norway, after bad weather suddenly made the highway on both ends of the tunnel too hazardous.

With temperatures down around the freezing point, the drivers and passengers in cars, trucks and other vehicles had to huddle in their vehicles and ride out the storm that hit Telemark and much of the rest of southern Norway late Sunday night and early Monday. Some of them sought refuge in a small room inside the tunnel, designed for emergencies and short-term use, but most stayed in their cars.

“We slept a little in the room that had space for around 20 persons,” one of the stranded motorists, Bernt Jæger, told website bt.no. “And then there were around 200 people who slept in their cars.”

Jæger, age 43, and his companion Åse Kristin Foss, 37, were on their way from  Vågslid to Haugesund on the main highway E-134 when the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse. They had driven into the 1.6-kilometer-long Vågslidtunnel at Vinje when they and all the others inside the tunnel were alerted that highway officials had closed the road.

It eventually re-opened and highway authorities (Statens vegvesen) were reporting snow and ice on the road, snow flurries, lighter winds and temperatures around minus-3C on Tuesday morning. Most main highways over the mountains were open but some, like RV 13 over Vikafjellet in Hordaland, was closed and not expected to re-open on Tuesday.

Motorists crossing the mountains from Dovrefjell in the east to Hardangervidda in the west were advised to have full tanks of gas, warm clothing in the car and some food and drinks, preferably warm drinks in a thermos.

Meanwhile, motorists around the Oslo area were cautioned to drive carefully because of unusually slippery roads. Temperatures rose to above the freezing point on Monday and it was raining Tuesday morning, leading to slick ice on roads and sidewalks because of sudden snow melt.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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