Early winter weather hits the north

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Stormy and wintry weather blew over northern Norway on Wednesday, resulting in several car accidents, closed runways at airports and cancelled voyages of the coastal shipping line Hurtigruten. More strong winds and snow were expected during the night on Wednesday and into Thursday.

State meteorologists warned of a polar low-pressure system that can cause serious damage in the days ahead. The areas of Vesterålen and Ofoten were already subject to either storms or what the Norwegians call stiv kuling (severe gales).

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that a truck driver from Andøya was seriously injured Wednesday when his vehicle skidded off a road on Senja. Police said the roads were “extremely slippery” in the area, and motorists all over Norway were urged to put winter tires on their cars if they hadn’t already done so.

Another trailer-truck blocked the E6 highway sourth of Ballangen in Nordland after jack-knifing on slippery pavement. Yet another truck tipped over on the E10 highway just north of Kåringen in Lødingen township, while a truck with foreign license plates blocked the E12 highway at Rana in Vesterålen, resulting in long lines of vehicles in both directions.

Polar low-pressure systems can bring intense and short storms with strong gusts of wind and heavy snow. The northern counties of Troms and Finnmark were vulnerable to such conditions on Wednesday and Thursday, weather forecasters warned.

The Hurtigruten ship MS Kong Harald cancelled its sailing from Honningsvåg and the MS Midnattsol was sailing directly from Bodø to Harstad Wednesday night, dropping Lofoten and Vesterålen to avoid a stormy and potentially hazardous crossing over Vestfjorden.

Ferry traffic was also disrupted in several areas, including Bodø. Runways at the airports in both Tromsø and Bodø had to close intermittently, to allow snow plowing, and airline traffic was delayed.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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