UPDATED: A major storm in Northern Norway forced the closure of 25 roads on Friday, while another round of dramatically shifting temperatures accompanied by snow, rain and then heavy fog continued to make driving and walking hazardous all over southern Norway. Layers of thin ice on the roads made driving so hazardous in some areas that thousands of children were stranded when their school bus system couldn’t drive them home.
Taxi service was also halted in several areas of Hedmark and Oppland counties, while the long-distance Nettbuss system cancelled nearly all their routes in Hadeland, just north of Oslo. Local newspaper Hadeland reported that bus and taxi drivers couldn’t control their vehicles, and school bus service was also cancelled. More difficult driving and walking conditions were reported on Friday morning, also in Østfold county. Pedestrians were advised to use brodder, the spike-like contraptions that can be attached to shoes and boots.
‘Danger to life and health’
State taxi federation Norges Taxiforbund urged all its drivers in Oppland to halt service on Thursday “because of danger to life and health” in addition to damage. “We ask for understanding and refer to police warnings to let vehicles remain parked,” Øystein Skoglund, leader of the taxi federation, told state broadcaster NRK.
“It’s complete chaos here,” Pål Erik Teigen, police section leader in Gjøvik, told NRK. “Cars just slide right off the road even when they’re parked. We’re warning people not to drive at all.”
Farther north in Gudbrandsdal the police sent out message on Twitter urging motorists who dare to drive to be careful: “Minus-seven degrees, raining hard, freezing on the roads, slippery!” The situation seemed worst in the Toten area south of Gjøvik, especially on County Road 33 over Vardalsåsen and on roads in Lena, Gjøvik and Dokka. As many as 35 trucks and 100 cars were standing still on the road over Vardalsåsen.
Police and state highway officials at Statens vegvesen were calling in reinforcements to handle all the collisions and traffic problems caused by the freezing rain. Many collisions were also being reported in and around Oslo Thursday afternoon.
State meteorologist Rafael Escobar Løvdahl blamed the hazardous and unusual conditions on warm air moving in over cold air that first settled over southern Norway earlier this week. The rain that started falling then immediately turns to ice, even before it hits frozen ground. A lack of wind meant that the cold air stayed put.
Warnings were also up for all mountain passes in southern Norway, with meteorologists urging motorists to delay any planned trips to or over the mountains until Saturday at the earliest. New storms were moving in, with strong winds and snow at high elevations threatening to close roads between eastern and western Norway Friday evening.
Severe storm warnings were also up in Northern Norway, while a hurricane bore down on Svalbard. In the counties of Troms and Finnmark, stormy weather and the risk of avalanches forced closure of 25 roads and highways, but not soon enough to prevent a car from being swept away at Fruvika outside Øksfjord. The driver was rescued and police said no other cars were involved.
Hammerfest was also hit hard by strong winds and a blizzard, as was the area around Alta. The bad weather disrupted transport both on land, at sea and in the air. Airline passengers were urged to consult airport authority Avinor for information on delays or cancellations.