Snowstorms through the weekend

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UPDATED: The snow that’s finally been falling on southern Norway during the past week, after an unusually warm autumn and winter so far, intensified along the south coast (Sørlandet) over the weekend, with strong winds as well. Forecasters warned of more hazardous driving conditions, and foreign truck drivers lacking approved winter tires and chains were stopped as they drove off ferries from the continent.

This was the scene on the E39 highway at Fidjane, near Kristiansand, on Friday morning. State highway officials and police were warning motorists of hazardous driving conditions all over southern Norway. PHOTO: Statens Vegvesen

This was the scene on the E39 highway at Fidjane, near Kristiansand, on Friday morning. State highway officials and police were warning motorists of hazardous driving conditions all over southern Norway. PHOTO: Statens Vegvesen

“The weather is creating problems, not least for motorists,” Arild Mentzoni of the state Meteorolgoical Institute told newspaper Dagsavisen on Friday. “We’re looking at large quantities of precipitation with temperatures around zero. It will be very slick on the roads.”

On Friday morning, his colleague Kristian Gislefoss was following up on national broadcaster NRK, warning that as much as a meter of snow may fall from Kristiansand up the coast towards Grimstad and beyond. Driving conditions were already difficult in the Agder counties, Telemark and Vestfold, with dozens of accidents on Thursday. Things were expected to get worse Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

That prompted police to crack down on the drivers of large foreign-registered trailer-trucks arriving in Norway without adequate equipment for winter driving. Several drivers from Poland, for example, were pulled over as they drove off a ferry from Denmark and ordered not to drive because their tires were too bald or they lacked adequate chains. Heavy trucks losing control, jack-knifing or otherwise blocking Norwegian highways has been a problem for years.

‘Don’t drive unless absolutely necessary’
Police in Telemark, meanwhile, were urging all motorists against driving unless it was absolutely necessary, and if so, reminding them to drive slowly and keep a good distance to the vehicle in front of them. “Changing lanes and trying to pass other cars is a very stupid thing to do,” one traffic patrol officer told NRK.

Several mountain passes closed on Thursday, including the main highway over Haukelifjell that connects eastern and western Norway. Other mountain highways were likely to close as well, or be hit with orders for more convoy driving that results in lengthy delays.

In the Oslo area, though, meteorologists predicted the snow would let up while grey skies would persist into early next week. The local ski association was gearing up for thousands of eager skiers to hit the trails in the forests and hills around the capital, after the area finally got enough snow for decent skiing conditions.

The weather in Northern Norway was looking much better, apart from storm warnings in Nordland County. Clear skies were forecast in many areas of Troms and Finnmark counties and the sun was even due to rise above the horizon again in northern Troms, heralding the prospect of brighter days ahead.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund