Southern Norway was bracing for yet another major storm that state meteorologists warned would extend through the Christmas holidays, with high winds, blizzards in the mountains and heavy rain at lower elevations. Residents were even told to prepare for power failures on Christmas Eve, as yet another near-hurricane blows in from the North Sea.
After a weekend of wild weather all over the the country, key mountain highways were forced to close again on Monday morning. Winds were so strong and snow drifts so massive over the mountain plateau Hardangervidda that highway crews couldn’t keep the road open.
Meteorologists and state road authorities strongly advised motorists against trying to cross the mountains between southwestern and southeastern Norway, especially on Christmas Eve. The bad weather was also predicted to keep moving north, with full storm warnings up in Nordland in Finnmark counties through the rest of the week.
‘High state of preparedness’
Around 10,000 households lost power over the weekend in the Agder counties, Østfold. Hedmark and portions of Akershus. State meteorologists said the new “extreme low pressure system” moving in would bring even worse weather, especially in Agder, Rogaland and Telemark.
“We can well understand that it’s terrible for folks to face losing power in the middle of Christmas celebrations,” Kjetil Hillestad of the state waterways and energy agency NVE told newspaper Aftenposten. “But we have a high state of preparedness and promise to do our best to get the power network repaired as quickly as possible if there’s storm damage.”
He claimed that “we have a good network in Norway,” but cautioned that the authorities can’t control the winds or keep all the trees away from the lines.
Worst on Christmas Eve
Winds were picking up again on Monday with the new storms expected to hit both the west coast (Vestlandet) and the southeast (Østlandet) Monday evening. The bad weather was due to continue through Tuesday and Wednesday, with torrential rain in the Oslo area on Christmas Eve instead of the classic “White Christmas” that most Norwegians expect. Temperatures in Oslo were expected to hover between +4-7C (low 40sF).
Forecasters predicted a slight break from the stormy weather on Thursday, the public holiday known as “Second Christmas Day,” more rain and wind was due on Friday and through New Year’s Eve.
“I can’t see any stable or better weather ahead, and must unfortunately report that the bad weather will continue through romjulen (the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day) and into the New Year,” said state meteorologist Per Egil Haga.