An unseasonably late and heavy snowfall created a traffic nightmare along Norway’s southern coast Monday morning. It continued to snow heavily along the coast of Aust-Agder, halting traffic on the main E18 highway through the area, and clogging local access roads as well.
Cars and trucks were forced to a standstill on the E18 eastbound from Grimstad. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that motorists ended up abandoning their vehicles in some areas, while others tried to reach their destination on secondary roads, but most didn’t get far.
“They’re trying to avoid the blocked E18 by using the small highways, but they’re getting stuck there, too,” Tone Kleiv of the state highway department Statens vegvesen told NRK. She was busy monitoring the traffic trouble that showed up on the department’s cameras mounted along the roads.
The only good news was that there weren’t many collisions because most cars and trucks were simply standing still.
The cold winter weather had been forecast through the weekend but wasn’t expected to contine or result in such heavy snowfall in the area known as Norway’s “Riviera,” where most residents usually are welcoming spring in late April and putting boats in the water. The vast majority have also shifted from winter- to summer tires on their vehicles, in accordance with regulations, and their summer tires aren’t designed to tackle the snow and slippery roads.
Equipment already stored away
“I can see on the cameras that there’s a lot of snow lying on the roads,” Kleiv said. It also fell after road crews have pretty much stored away all snow-removal and salting equipment for the season. Not only were the motorists surprised, but also the highway department itself.
“One of the challenges today is that the material we use for snow clearing was taken out of service from April 15, since that’s usually the end of the season,” Kjell Asbjørn Knutsen of Statens vegvesen told NRK.
The heavy snow fell from Vestfold to Telemark and south to Aust-Agder, while it also snowed in Oslo on Sunday. More unusually chilly weather was in the forecast, with snow also falling as far south as Lund in Sweden, not far from Malmø.