More storms close roads, halt trains

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UPDATED: New, violent storms were rolling over large portions of Norway this week, also after meteorologists had declared that the weekend’s storm was over. Winds were so strong during the night that portions of the roof blew off the football stadium in Ålesund as the northwest coast took a pounding.

Strong winds and drifting snow closed all but two roads connecting eastern and western Norway on Tuesday. This was the scene at Haugastol, where RV7 over Hardangervidda was among state highways closed. PHOTO: Statens Vegvesen webcamera

Strong winds and drifting snow closed all but two roads connecting eastern and western Norway on Tuesday. This was the scene at Haugastol, where RV7 over Hardangervidda was among state highways closed. PHOTO: Statens Vegvesen webcamera

Western Norway was still getting hit the hardest on Tuesday, from Sørlandet beyond Hordaland as stormy weather slammed into the counties of Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal Monday night and into Tuesday. More storm systems were on the way, according to the meteorologists.

The extreme weather system “Nina” that brought hurricane-force winds during the weekend was said to have made a “U-turn” between Iceland and Northern Norway, bringing more strong winds to coast of Nordland County as well. Warnings were posted for Helgeland, Saltfjellet, Salten and Ofoten on Tuesday.

Ferries were still halted and only two roads connecting eastern and western Norway were open over the mountains of southern Norway on Tuesday morning: State highway 52 over Hemsedal and the E16 over Filefjell. Main routes such as the E134 over Haukefjell and State Highway 7 over Hardangervidda were closed because of strong winds and snowdrifts.

Bergensbanen closed at Geilo
Snowplow drivers simply gave up in some areas of the south on Monday.The situation was no better on Tuesday, with some areas lying under as much as 2.5 meters (more than eight feet) of snow.

Train lines were also affected, with Bergensbanen (the main line between Bergen and Oslo) closed between Geilo and Mjølfjell because of blocked tracks. State railway tried to offer alternative bus service but they’re delayed or halted as well because of closed roads.

Thousands of households remained without power, especially in Hordaland, and some elderly residents were temporarily moved to local nursing homes because they lacked heat at home.

Many were also without mobile phone and Internet coverage after trees crashed over power and phone lines in the southwest. Telenor confirmed that 68 base stations were knocked out of operation in Hordaland while 16 base stations were down in Vest-Agder, where the storm hit the southern coast hard. Risør was among the towns where communications were severely disrupted.

Highway 45 between Aust-Agder and Telemark remained closed after snow-clearing crews had to give up efforts to move huge mounds of snow. “We could hardly see any road, much less clear it,” one driver told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). New attempts were due to be made on Tuesday but more strong wind was expected that could hinder visibility.

The main road out of the popular ski center at Hovden at the northern end of Setesdal was also buried in snow and emergency crews were only allowing convoys of cars through the area.

Calls poured in to insurance companies
The extent of damage caused by the extreme weather system called “Nina” became more clear on Monday with insurance companies reporting “enormous” numbers of calls for help. Emma Elisabeth Vennesland of insurance firm If Skadeforsikring said the firm received 750 calls on Sunday and another 920 by late Monday afternoon.

Hurricane-force winds especially damaged roof construction, while flooding destroyed many wharves and boat houses along the coast from Aust-Agder to Hordaland. Residents were once again warned of flying objects in the air that can be dangerous.

The other end of the country, in the far north, remained in the grip of an extreme cold snap, with temperatures of minus-40C on Monday in Karasjok again. The frigid weather halted school bus and other vehicular traffic in several areas of Finnmark but school officials said they’d only close if temperatures fell to minus-50.

There was some good news, as the sun returned in such northern venues as Lofoten, Harstad and Bardufoss. It was due to rise above the horizon in Tromsø on Thursday and in most of the rest of Northern Norway next week.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund