Flood warnings up after warm snap

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A sudden rise in temperatures all over Norway led to a warm and mostly sunny holiday weekend, but also set off flooding and fears of more calamity, especially in the southeast. Snow in the mountains is melting much too quickly for rivers and creeks to handle the runoff.

State meteorologists were predicting heavy rain this week, which experts at the state waterways and energy agency NVE (Norges vassdrags- og energidirektorat) said would make the situation worse. They posted flood warnings for widespread areas of Østlandet (eastern and southern Norway), with the areas around the waterways leading into the large lakes of Mjøsa and Krøderen deemed most vulnerable.

‘More water than normal’
“There’s always spring flooding, but it varies and now there’s more water than normal in parts of the Skien waterway and in Drammenselva,” hydrologist Ingjerd Haddeland at NVE told newspaper Dagsavisen.

Portions of Telemark, Oppland and Buskerud counties already got more than a taste of flooding over the long holiday weekend, with several roads and town centers under high water. Emergency calls went out in Tinn, Rujkan and Rauland, for example, and several highways were closed.

Now fears are rising in Gudbrandsdalen, along the Glomma River and Hallingdalselva. It’s only been two years since the wide river known as Gudbrandsdalslågen flooded over its banks and left a patch of destruction in its wake, also disrupting traffic on the busy E6 highway through the valley.

“We’ve tried to compare what we expect now, with floods in the past few years, so that folks can remember what happened and evaluate how to best secure their property,” Haddeland said. She said that campgrounds and agricultural areas along the river were likely to be hit hardest once again.

Winter to summer almost overnight
The flooding began late last week, when this year’s long winter and unusually cold spring suddenly transformed into summer-like temperatures. They shot up from as low as near-freezing to as high as 25C (77F), and the ice and snow that remained in many places at both high and lower elevations melted and turned into a deluge. In some areas, huge floating ice blocks also clogged creeks and rivers and slammed into bridges.

The warm sunny weather also built up low-pressure systems later in the day that led to some heavy rains late on Saturday and again Sunday night. Now more rain is predicted, especially on Wednesday. Meteorologist Marian Foss told Dagsavisen that it was difficult to predict how much rain would fall, “but it will be a lot.”

Foss said rain was expected for several days, mostly in Oppland, Buskerud and Hedmark Counties.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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