Winter weather snarls traffic

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The first real onslaught of winter weather in and around the Oslo area led to a rash of car accidents, disruptions in public transport and serious delays at the main airport at Gardermoen on Monday morning. One towing service had already fielded more than 225 calls for help by 7am.

State meteorologists had been warning that as many as 15 centimeters of snow could fall during the night on Sunday, leading to a challenging Monday morning commuter rush. The snow did indeed start falling late Sunday evening, and even though it mostly turned to rain in Oslo by early morning, the roads were slick and problems ensued.

‘Working hard’
The sudden need for de-icing and snow-plowing on the runways led to lengthy delays at OSL Gardermoen. One flight bound for Trondheim ended up parked with passengers on board for more than two hours before it was able to take off.

“We’re working hard to keep one runway open while we clear the other one,” airport spokesman Vegard Gystad told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “But we are experiencing delays up to two hours.” He warned that the delays were likely to continue into the afternoon.

Passengers complained over a lack of information from both airport and airline officials as they impatiently waited for flights to take off.

Accidents galore
Slick roads also caused problems for motorists Monday morning, even though the snow and sleet had been forecast for days. Several traffic accidents in Romerike resulted in police refusing to let some motorists continue driving because they hadn’t mounted winter tires. There were no serious injuries but collisions in Aurskog Høland and Dal sent a few people to local emergency rooms for treatment.

Temperatures warmed up in Oslo, turning the snow that was falling heavily around midnight into rain by early morning. In outlying areas such as Nittedal and Hakadal, however, there were several centimeters of snow on the ground and some bus traffic was halted in Kolsås and Haslum in Bærum because of slippery roads.

There were also some train delays through Lillestrøm that affected the Airport Express Train (Flytoget) serving Gardermoen. Adding to the challenges for airline passengers were the cancellations of flights to New York, where airports were closing as the city braced for a major hurricane. It was unclear when flights could resume.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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