Flood spreads, southeast threatened

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The cities of Hamar and Gjøvik and many other communities around Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa, were scrambling to hold back rising floodwaters that experts now fear won’t crest until sometime next week. Special efforts were underway to protect the former Olympic speed skating arena as damage claims flooded in, too.

This is the area at the heart of the current flood zone, around Lake Mjøsa in southeastern Norway, after heavy flooding during the weekend in the valleys of Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen, north and northeast of Mjøsa. PHOTO: NVE/Statens kartverk

Even the parking lot at the CC Mart’n shopping center in Gjøvik was flooded, while engineers worked to keep floodwaters from unsettling the foundations of the lakefront speed skating arena at Hamar known as Vikingskipet. They were literally pumping water under the large arena, where ice for the rinks is produced in wintertime, to stabilize the structure on the saturated and shifting shore.

The flooding that began and Friday and became a deluge over the weekend in much of eastern Norway continued its destructive path on Wednesday. Officials at Norway’s Water Resources and Energy Directorate (Norges vassdrags- og energidirektoratet, NVE) altered their estimates of when the waters of Lake Mjøsa would hit their highest point and start to recede.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that they now expect Mjøsa to rise by another 40 to 45 centimeters, maybe more, before the lake level starts to decline. With more rain expected on Friday and over the weekend, that means flooding is likely to continue into next week.

NVE was also posting new warnings on its website (external link, only in Norwegian) that with the waters still rising in Mjøsa and Vorma, flood threats were high where the rivers of Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen meet just south of Mjøsa.

Now properties along the Vorma and Glomma rivers were vulnerable to flooding, as well as those along the large Lake Øyeren, just east of Oslo’s eastern hills of Østmarka. Other areas of Østfold County, south and east of Oslo, were under threat as well.

NVE posted flood warnings from June 14-18 fr Oppland, Hedmark, Akershus and Østfold counties, predicting that water levels in Lake Øyeren would rise but likely to around two meters below the highest levels reached during major flooding in 1995.

Geologists and engineers also said that rock- and mudslide warnings were downgraded in higher-lying areas of southern Norway, but that there was still a danger of small, local slides along rivers, creeks and in steep areas where flooding has occurred.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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