Powerful storm knocked out the north

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Another powerful storm packing strong winds swept over wide portions of Northern Norway Thursday afternoon and hit the city of Narvik especially hard. Police evacuated a shopping center and a school, where parents picking up their children were literally knocked off their feet.

The winds tore the roof off of several buildings, threatened to topple a construction crane and caused lots of damage, according to police who urged residents to stay indoors. It was dangerous to be out, they said.

Widespread blackout
The storm also cut electricity to large areas of Nordland, Troms and Finnmark counties. Downtown Tromsø was also without electricity Thursday afternoon, after the power cut at a transformer station in Ofoten. It knocked out the main power line to much of Northern Norway.

Emergency telephone lines to the police were also knocked out but started functioning as some power was restored after the blackout had lasted more than an hour. Most areas got their electricity back around 4pm except for areas around Tromsø and Finnfjord, but Statnett, responsible for Norway’s power grid, announced the situation was still unstable and power could go out again.

Tromsø officials were setting up a crisis team that would open a center where people who depend on electrical heating could gather to stay warm.

Bus blown off the road
Winds were so strong that a bus was blown off the road near the Nordland-Troms county border, and emergency helicopters couldn’t land at local airports.

Officials at Frydenlund Elementary School in Narvik kept children indoors all day until they decided to evacuate, when the wind threatened to blow the roof off. “Two doors are already badly damaged,” said the school’s principal, Stein Roar Jakobsen.

Bridges were also closed and motorists caught in the storm had to creep through the darkness and deal with a complete lack of traffic lights. Many roads and highways were closed, and ferries cancelled.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund