Skiers were quick to take advantage of the snow that finally started to pile up in Oslo and elsewhere around Norway during the weekend. The snowfall was so heavy in some areas that it also led to some major traffic problems and serious accidents, with more bitterly cold weather in the forecast.
State meteorologists were reporting Monday that snow-removal crews would have a respite from the deluge that left some areas with as much as 135 centimeters of new snow. The snowfall was especially heavy in the southwest and far north, posing challenges at both ends of the country.
Nordreisa in Troms reported well over a meter of new snow, while the snowfall wasn’t as heavy as expected in the southern Agder counties. Warnings had gone out on Sunday that Agder, Telemark, Vestfold and Buskerud could expect up to 60 centimeters of snow, which would snarl traffic no matter how many road crews were out trying to keep highways open.
Around half of that fell instead, but it was enough to prompt police to urge motorists to avoid driving if at all possible. Many of those trying to cross the mountains of southern Norway likely wished they had, after they got stuck inside a tunnel on the E134 highway over Haukelifjell. Crews kept the highway open, but driving was restricted to convoys and there were long delays. Some drivers had to wait up to three hours, and simply parked their cars inside the Haukeli Tunnel where they could at least get out and walk around. The E134 reopened for unrestricted driving on Monday.
Slick roads made driving hazardous, with several accidents reported late Saturday night and Sunday morning in Oppland, Hedmark and Akershus counties. The worst one occurred on the main E6 highway north of Oslo when a car slid off the road at Kløfta in Akershus. Several other cars stopped to help, and then a 16-year-old boy who got out to assist the stranded car’s driver was hit by another car and killed instantly. The highway, which serves as the main route to Oslo’s airport at Gardermoen, was also temporarily closed.
In Oslo itself, police reported relatively few accidents during the first major snowfall of the season. “There haven’t been many cars on the road, it looks like folks have stayed home,” Finn Belle, operations leader at the Oslo Police District, told newspaper Aftenposten. There was some technical disruption on Oslo’s Sognsavann metro line, forcing hundreds of skiers heading home from a day on the trails to get off and find other means of transport, but the system eventually started running again.
On Monday morning, the main train line south of Oslo was halted between Råde and Fredrikstad, because of a collision with a car at the Høyum crossing at Onsøy. There were no injuries and state railway NSB was working to provide alternative transportation.
Temperatures warmed up towards the freezing point Monday after several days well below zero, but meteorologists warned that more bitter cold was expected later in the week. Thermometers may fall to 15-below from Wednesday, also in the Oslo metropolitan area, with the cold snap extending through the weekend.