Norwegians woke up to more bone-chilling temperatures on Thursday, especially in Northern Norway, where thermometers were showing 40-degrees below zero or even lower. Residents of the far north are used to rough winters, but the Arctic freeze was forcing disruptions in daily life, not least in the northernmost county of Finnmark.
Road transport was hit the hardest, with school bus systems grinding to a halt, truckers frozen off the roads and garbage collection suspended because the garbage trucks’ machinery wouldn’t function in such frigid temperatues.
The school buses were still capable of driving but officials in Karasjok and Kautokeino suspended all routes for fear that their young passengers would suffer severe frost injuries if the buses were involved in any accidents on slippery roads.
“The routes shall not run when it’s colder than minus-40C,” Kåre Olli, leader of bus transport company Boreal, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
It was that cold Thursday morning in many areas of Finnmark, which is experiencing wind rolling in from Siberia and the absence of a low-pressure system. It was relatively warmer in some areas, especially along the coast, with Vadsø reporting minus-18C and Hammerfest minus-16C. It was colder in Alta, which is located at the southern end of a long fjord extending in from the Barents Sea. Thermometers there showed minus-26C, while it was minus-35C in Tana, which is located farther inland and straddling a river.
Despite the ban on school bus routes, children were still allowed outdoors for short periods to play in the extreme cold. In Kautokeino, eight-year-old Ana Maria Eira and her sister Inga Eveline, age six, were testing the laws of physics by throwing buckets of hot water into the air, where it instantly froze and made decorative patterns before falling to the ground. “They were out playing when it was minus-37C,” their mother Inga Karen Marit Eira told NRK. “They’re used to the cold.”
The current cold snap is nonetheless extreme, and it was settling over other parts of Norway as well. In addition to temperatures of minus-30C in Finnmark’s neighbouring northern county of Troms, it was minus-26 in the inland and historic mining town of Røros in Sør-Trondelag, much farther to the south.
State meteorologists had nothing but sub-freezing temperatures to report nationwide Thursday morning. It was minus-12C in Oslo, minus-10 in the southern city of Fredrikstad and minus-8C in Trondheim. Even the west coast cities of Stavanger and Bergen, which have been experiencing mild winters and lots of storms with heavy rain recently, were well under the freezing point. The cold weather was due to last into the weekend, when snow was forecast as well for many areas of southern Norway.