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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Snow sparked traffic chaos

Motorists who skidded off slick, snowy roads on Sunday were having to wait as long as six hours to get help from tow trucks. Emergency crews were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of accidents that occurred when southern Norway got its first taste of winter weather over the weekend.

Tourists on a bus that got caught by the wintry weather got off and seemed to enjoy the unusual snow that fell in early October. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

The bad weather had been predicted but most motorists, particularly those returning on Sunday from autumn holidays in the mountains, apparently hadn’t listened. Sunny, almost summer-like weather on Saturday perhaps gave them false hope before it gave way to snow and sleet on Sunday.

Almost all highways through the mountains were hit by relatively heavy snow, including the E134 over Haukelifjell, and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) had a string of reports throughout the day about just how bad it was on the roads. Drivers of cars that weren’t equipped with winter tires lost control over their vehicles and one man in his 50s landed in a lake at Haukeli. He was rescued, wet and chilled but otherwise uninjured.

Most of the accidents occurring all over southern Norway involved vehicles landing in ditches or colliding with others, but emergency crews were relieved over the lack of serious personal injury or deaths. They were nonetheless kept busy by all the calls for help as motorists were left stranded in freezing temperatures.

Others tried putting chains on their summer tires but that also caused long traffic jams, for example on roads leading out of Geilo. Traffic was heavy out of the mountain valleys of Valdes and Hallingdal, through Hønefoss and towards Oslo over Sollihøgda, also through Gudbrandsdalen.

Highway officials were urging motorists to give up efforts to drive over the slippery roads on summer tires. “If folks have the chance, it’s better that they just stay at their hytter (cabins) and wait until roads crews can clear the roads,” Hans Petter Gauksrud of the Nordre Buskerud Police District told NRK.

Others said they wished more motorists had heeded the warnings of snow in the weather forecast, and driven home from their cabins on Saturday when the weather was still clear and the roads dry.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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