‘White-out’ over southern Norway

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UPDATED: There were “white-out conditions” over most of southern and eastern Norway Thursday morning, with lots of snow and wind resulting in numerous traffic accidents and delays in public transport. All bus traffic was halted in Oslo because of difficult driving conditions, and police warned of a “chaotic” day ahead.

The snow was blowing sideways in Oslo early Thursday morning, and visibiity was poor here at Vika. The buildings of Tjuvholmen and Aker Brygge just two blocks away were shrouded in the snowstorm. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The snow was blowing sideways in Oslo early Thursday morning, and visibiity was poor here at Vika. The buildings of Tjuvholmen and Aker Brygge just two blocks away were shrouded in the snowstorm. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

In an unusual move, all Oslo bus drivers were sent messages at around 8am informing them to pull over to the nearest curb and park. Passengers were left stranded, but transport officials decided that driving conditions were simply too difficult and potentially unsafe for the heavy vehicles filled with commuters.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that trains were also halted between Oslo’s central station (Oslo S) and Bryn because of “problems on the tracks” caused by heavy snowfall. As many as 16 large semi-trailers were stuck in snow along the E6 highway just north of the Nøstvet tunnel, blocking all the vehicles behind them. One lane eventually was reopened, making it possible to pass.

The sudden spring snowstorm rolled in as predicted during the night, and by 7am Thursday it had dumped at least 10 centimeters of snow along Oslo’s waterfront. Much more snow fell elsewhere and state meteorologists boosted their predictions of snowfall during the day to as much as 50 centimeters.

“There will be at least as much (snow) as what we thought (30 centimeters), perhaps more,” state meteorologist Siri Wiberg Horjen told weather website yr.no. More snow was expected at lower elevations than in the mountains, and the counties of Aust-Agder and Telemark could get as much as a half-meter during the course of the day.

Airport warned of delays on a busy day
In Oslo, the snow was expected to keep falling until early afternoon. It was likely to cause delays in airline traffic at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, which was expecting large numbers of passengers getting an early start on the upcoming Easter holidays. They were all advised to arrive as planned for scheduled flights but be prepared to wait. The airport later closed down for at least two hours from around noon.

Police were reporting accidents and closed roads all over Oslo, Akershus and Østfold Thursday morning. On the four-lane divided E6 highway south of Oslo, the large trucks slid sideways in the snow, blocking lanes in both directions at one point and effectively closing the busy thoroughfare.

On the E18 highway between Oslo and the Swedish border, one car ran off the road a few kilometers from the customs station at Ørje and landed on its roof. Another motorist also lost control of his car near Askimporten at around 6am, with that vehicle flipping over as well. Neither driver suffered serious injuries, however.

‘Total white-out’
NRK reported that among the vehicles running off slippery roads was a snowplow trying to clear County Road 114 beween Grålum and Stenbekk in Sarpsborg. Another snowplow landed in the ditch along County Road 115 north of Verpet in Trøgstad.

“It’s total white-out conditions here,” reported another motorist who had called into NRK and was slowly making his way up the E6 towards Oslo. “You can’t see any lanes on the road and we’re driving in a convoy.”

Police in Follo sent out messages on social media urging motorists to drive carefully or leave their cars at home, especially if they’d already changed to summer tires. Meteorologists were predicting better weather on Friday and Saturday but more snow or rain on Sunday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund