Record heatwave may finally ease

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UPDATED: Norwegians literally sweated through the terror threat that descended on them last week, as a lengthy, record-breaking heatwave continued to extend from north to south. Thermometers hit their highest July temperature ever recorded at the state meteorologic institute at the University of Oslo at Blindern, but the weather cooled down a bit by Sunday, with some unusually welcome rain.

The forests, like this one in Østmarka, are so dry around the Oslo area after weeks of hot weather that authorities have banned all campfires and warned people not to smoke anywhere near trees or dry grass. Rain was predicted, and welcome. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The forests, like this one in Østmarka, are so dry around the Oslo area after weeks of hot weather that authorities have banned all campfires and warned people not to smoke anywhere near trees or dry grass. Rain was predicted, and welcome. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Temperatures stayed high into the weekend after officially hitting a record 33.4C (94F) at Blindern in Oslo on Thursday afternoon. The heatwave has taken its toll on a country where hardly any homes and few public buildings have air conditioning. Nursing homes, for example, were struggling to keep their elderly patients cool and hydrated, and newspaper Aftenposten reported that one 93-year-old woman had to be rushed to hospital after she was left unattended in her wheelchair on a nursing home terrace. She was badly sunburned, dehydrated and suffering heat exhaustion. Nursing home officials apologized profusely and were rebuked.

Stores ran low or completely out of their supplies of electric fans, and at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, crews had to shower the asphalt runways with cold water to keep them from buckling in the heat. Thermometers hit well over 50C (around 125F) in the mid-day sun. Officials at state railway NSB and Oslo’s metro system also had to delay or cancel more trains because of heat trouble with the steel rails that also must be able to tolerate extreme cold in the winter.

Tourists who’d packed warm clothes were surprised by the heat and a Japanese gr0up at the Frogner Park in Oslo were all equipped with umbrellas to ward off the sun. The heat was also blamed for computer problems at several companies that had server troulbe, while one man tried to get his money back for a trip he’d arranged to Southern Europe because it was so warm at home in Norway. His insurance company turned down his claim.

On late Saturday afternoon, the heat was interrupted by a sudden hail and rain storm. Temperatures dropped by a few degrees immediately and there were cloudbursts several places around southern Norway, welcomed not least by firefighters who already were battling several minor fires around the country during the weekend. The forests are so dry around the Oslo area that local authorities banned all campfires and use of portable grills, even in designated camping areas, and also warned people not to smoke near trees or dry grass.

Rain continued sporadically through the night in and around Oslo and on Sunday. Forecasts were mixed for Monday, but meteorologists expected more showers, possibly through Tuesday, and temperatures in the lower 20sC (70sF).

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund