Police in Bergen and Stavanger were warning residents against going outdoors on Wednesday, after extremely strong winds ripped the roofs off garages and several other buildings. The winds also literally blew a bus off the E6 highway over the mountains of Dovre, and many mountain passes were forced to close once again.
Gusts of 25 meters a second were wreaking havoc all over Vestlandet (Western Norway). The state Meteorological Institute was issuing new warnings for “full storm” over large areas of the country.
Damage turned dangerous
The roofs and walls of six residential garage buildings at Godalen in Stavanger were ripped off their foundations and blown into the adjacent street. Flying debris was declared dangerous and all residents were urged to remain indoors until the winds eased.
A similar situation arose in Bergen when the winds destroyed several garage buildings in a residential complex in Fyllingsdalen. Police were so overwhelmed by all the calls for help from others who reported damage and flying debris that they called in civil defense forces to assist in the response.
The worst of the damage came between 11am and noon, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. In the Fana area of Bergen, police evacuated residents of an apartment building on Harald Sæverudsveg because the winds had also loosened the building’s roof from its walls.
“Given the danger that the roof will be torn off, we started an evacuation,” Terje Magnussen, operations leader for the Hordaland Police District, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which was airing special emergency reports throughout the day.
Bus drama over Dovre
Police also had to close the E6 highway over Dovre, the main route between Trondheim and the rest of southern Norway, because of the winds and blizzards. Earlier in the day, passengers on board a bus bound from Trondheim to Bergen had a scare when it was blown off the road and landed on its side in a nearby ditch. Several passengers were injured, but none seriously.
“It was a dramatic experience for everyone,” passenger Kristian Nilssen told NRK. Bus driver Lasse Tenden said he “didn’t have a chance” of keeping the bus on the road in the strong winds, but he was hailed by passengers and emergency crews alike for managing to avoid hitting piles of nearby boulders. “He tackled the situation very well,” said passenger Natalie Lovise Lie. “He was calm and came around to all of us, to see how we were and tell us what would happen next.”
None of the bus windows broke and no one was seriously injured, “so we all agreed to wait inside the bus,” Nilssen said. “Then the police and ambulance crews came, but they had big problems trying to avoid being blown away too. I was OK, but had to be escorted by two big, strong emergency workers because the wind was so strong.” He and passenger Mona Maria Løberg said that everyone on board was shaken but relieved that they’d all survived.
Many other highways and roads over the mountains of Southern Norway were closed on Wednesday, including RV13 over Vikafjellet and RV7 over Hardangervidda. Convoy driving was set up on several key highways, but motorists were warned they could close at any time.