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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Record snowfall hit southwest

Residents of Rogaland County on Norway’s southwest coast were digging their way out of a major snowstorm Wednesday night that severely disrupted traffic in the air and on the ground, and left them tackling record-high snowdrifts. They were bracing, along with the rest of southern Norway, for what state meteorologists predict will be an “interesting” weekend.

A snowed-down neighborhood in Stavanger on Thursday night. PHOTO: Ed Habgood

“Now you’ve set some snow records,” state meteorologist Kjersti Opstad Strand told radio listeners on Thursday. “Tomorrow you’ll have a break, before another powerful low-pressure system is expected over the weekend.”

Weather for the history books
The snow that piled up late Wednesday night and early Thursday seemed to arrive ahead of schedule, and was already going into local history books, not least around Sandnes, south of Stavanger. The area was clobbered with 55 centimeters of snow in the space of 24 hours, adding to the 15 centimeters already on the ground. That broke the record of 68 centimeters set during a major snowstorm two years ago.

The communities of Ims and Hognestad in the municipality of Time also broke records set back in 1980. At Sviland in Sandnes, the local weather station hasn’t measured so much snow since 1925.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the snowstorm sparked chaos on the roads and some scary accidents, like when one passenger vehicle slid off the slick highway E39 at Tysvær and overturned. Authorities were asking residents to simply stay home, not least when another full storm is due to hit Friday night.

Airport shut down
The storm also forced Stavanger’s main airport at Sola to close for around three hours on Thursday. The weather had “never been worse,” claimed Stig Jone Nevlan, in charge of airport operations. “I’ve worked here for 25 years, and have to admit that I’ve never seen it worse than what we’ve seen in the last day.”

Schools closed and hundreds of motorists were stranded in their cars on the E39 highway, prompting local Red Cross and other aid workers to use snowmobiles to offer some contact and ressurance until snowplows could make the road passable. All trucks were ordered to use chains even though they had snowtires. A Stavanger-bound train also ground to a halt between Vegårshei and Neslandsvatn, because of a power failure. Around 300 passengers were forced to get out and walk back along the tracks to the Gjerstad station.

Meteorologists were warning of more heavy snowfall in southern Norway, and predicting an “interesting” weekend. “It will really be best to stay indoors in Rogaland, and important to follow the advice of authorities because it can be a scary situation during the weekend,” Opstad Strand told NRK.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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