Oslo’s bus system shut down, trams weren’t running, some trains stood still and Norway’s gateway airport at Gardermoen, north of Oslo, finally had to close. Warnings had been issued about Thursday’s snowstorm, but it proved to be more than transport systems could handle.
The blizzard that began during the night and built up during the morning had dumped more than 40 centimeters of snow on the southern coastal town of Arendal by midday. Some areas reported more than 60 centimeters and it was still coming down. Streets that did get cleared were covered with slippery snow again within minutes.
At Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, the snow was falling so thick and fast that the airport’s army of plows were out in force trying to keep the runways clear, but without much luck. “And when we have plows on the runways, planes can’t land or take off,” airport spokesman Joachim Wester Andersen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
Flight delays started occurring early in the morning and the situation got worse and worse as the day wore on. “We had to make a decision that it simply isn’t safe to fly right now,” Andersen said on national radio. OSL Gardermoen’s terminal buildings were open, but the airport closed to arriving and departing flights for at least two hours from around noon.
The closure came on one of the busiest days of the year for Oslo’s main airport, as thousands of Norwegians intended to start their Easter holidays early. Passengers were told to stay in touch with their airlines. Lengthy delays were expected even after the airport eventually reopened.
Oslo’s city bus system, meanwhile, closed down in a highly unusual move at around 8am. At noon, buses were still standing parked around town because driving conditions were considered too dangerous. Again, the snow was falling so fast and heavily that snowplow crews couldn’t keep either streets or sidewalks cleared.
The city was strangely quiet after many motorists followed police advice and left their cars at home. Those who ventured out got caught in slow-moving traffic. The city’s tram system also was severely affected, after snow clogged the tracks on which it runs.
Local trains and the Airport Express Train also faced challenges and delays, after a train that got stuck in the snow blocked an important line into the Romeriksporten tunnel. Several commuters opted to ski to work on Thursday, one of the most reliable if unusual modes of transport available.