Suddenly spring, slide danger rises

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UPDATED: Rain and an unusual spate of warm weather have raised the danger of landslides and avalanches all over Norway, with four separate slides hitting Sør-Trøndelag on Tuesday. One of them rammed the main route between Trondheim and Oslo, where the weather has never been so warm this early in the year.

Landslides are a big problem in Norway, like this one at Stjørdal east of Trondheim several years ago. PHOTO: NVE/Henrik Svedahl,

The biggest landslide, near Støren, measured around 300 meters wide and hit both the tracks of the popular train line over Dovre in Sør-Trøndelag and the E6 highway. Emergency crews managed to open the highway Tuesday morning, but the train line will be disrupted for at least the next few days.

Two more slides hit both Melhus and Meråker, forcing the evacuations of six persons, while another slide threatened the Vikhammer School in Malvik Tuesday morning. No students were missing or hurt.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the largest of the slides occurred southwest of Støren at Soknedal, around 1.3 kilometers south of the Korporals Bridge on the E6. There are no homes in the area and police said they found no cars trapped in the piles of mud and rock.

That’s likely because traffic was extremely light when the slide occurred well after midnight. Police received their first reports of the landslide at around 3:30am.

While the highway could reopen, officials at state railroad Jernbaneverket reported major damage to the train line known as Dovrebanen, which runs over the Dovre Mountains on its route between Trondheim and Oslo. “Dovrebanen is closed indefinitely, because the landslide took with it both overhead power lines and masts,” railroad spokesman Harry Korslund told NRK.

Passengers on board the overnight train from Oslo to Trondheim were transferred over to taxis that drove them on to their destinations. State railway NSB planned to carry passengers by train as usual between Trondheim and Støren, and between Oslo and Berkåk, but then passengers would have to move over to bus service between Berkåk and Støren to get around the slide area. Delays were expected.

Slide warnings posted
Landslide warnings were posted around central Norway, where rapidly rising temperatures were melting snow quickly, saturating the ground and leaving hillsides unstable.

“The slopes are full of water and there are many creeks with ice,” said Kari Øvrelid of the state water and energy directorate NVE. “That means the danger of landslides is quite high right now.”

Another landslide occurred at Flora in Størdal township before the larger one crashed down at Soknedal south of Støren.

Landslide danger was said to be highest in Nordmøre, according to NVE, especially in Surnadal because of its high, steep mountainsides and lots of snow.

Avalanche danger was high as well, not least because of strong winds in many areas and a sudden rise in temperatures that seems to have brought an unusually abrupt transition from winter to spring. Thermometers have been shooting up all over southern Norway, with Oslo recording 16C on Monday (about 62F). That’s the warmest temperature ever registered so early in the year.

Tuesday was shaping up as another glorious day in the Oslo area, with temperatures due to reach the same levels as Monday. State meteorologists predicted sunny spring weather all week, but cooler on the weekend with a slight chance of showers.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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