Nearly half of all Norwegians were planning to travel during the traditional Easter holiday week that got underway on Friday. Warnings surrounded the annual Easter exodus for those heading to the mountains for late spring skiing.
Heavy snowfall both earlier in the winter and just in the past few weeks, combined with rising temperatures and even some rain, have prompted avalanche warnings especially in Northern Norway. Kjetil Brattlien of the geological institute NGI (Norges Geotekniske Institutt) cautions that conditions in many mountain areas are similar to those last year, when there were many avalanches and earthslides.
“We have a weak layer of snow way down in the depths that can easily give way, creating dangerous conditions.” Brattlien told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He described the situation as “very much like that last year,” when five persons were killed by avalanches during the Easter holidays and the Red Cross responded to 11 separate avalanches to search for possible victims.
Åsne Havnelid, secretary general of the Norwegian Red Cross, said that the dangerous depths of snow on steep mountainsides means skiers must be especially careful. “There’s still a lot of snow in many areas and the wind is blowing differently than it did before,” Havnelid warned. “That means snow has piled up in many areas where folks may have traditionally skied before and felt safe. It’s very important to inquire about conditions from local people familiar with local conditions before setting off, and to follow marked trails.”
Heading for the hills, the coast and abroad
A recent survey by research bureau InFact indicates that nearly half of all Norwegians planned to leave home during the Easter week, which features three public holidays on the Thursday and Friday before Easter Sunday and the Monday after. That always prompts many to take Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off as well, to take advantage of a long break using minimal vacation days.
News bureau NTB reported that only 10 percent of those questioned in the InFact survey said they would not be taking any time off during the Easter week, while 40 percent said they’d stay home during the Easter holidays. Fully 47 percent planned to travel with most heading for the mountains or to holiday homes along the coast, to prepare them for the summer season. Others were traveling abroad, indicating that they craved sunshine and warmer temperatures after an unusually grey and rainy winter with little snow for skiing at lower elevations.
The InFact survey was conducted for Visit Geilo, the tourist organization for the mountain area in and around Geilo, a popular destination for skiers and hikers in Southern Norway. It showed that nearly double the number of Norwegians opted for the mountains for more skiing, while the number of holidaymakers heading abroad nearly doubled as well.