Siberian cold snap settles over Norway

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Brrrrrrr … it’s cold out there! After years of unusually mild winters, Norwegians have been getting a solid dose of snow, ice and now subfreezing temperatures in the double digits, all the result of a cold front from Siberia that moved in over the country this week. 

The cold temperatures are keeping snow on the trees, also around the Oslo area, where it generally melts off quickly. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

It’s been so long since temperatures have been logged in the minus-20s and -30s centigrade that Norwegian media outlets have felt a need to offer all sorts of warnings and tips over how to deal with it. State broadcaster NRK stressed the advantages of dressing in layers with pure wool closest to the skin, for example, while also reminding Norwegians that this can be a good time to air out dyner, the feather comforters used on most Norwegian beds.

Dog owners have also been advised to equip their four-legged friends with warm vests and booties if they intend to take them out skiing. Snow and ice can otherwise form on their paws and be painful.

Warnings were also up that demand for firewood has been so high that many storage centers were running low on supplies. Hordaland and Trøndelag counties were facing a firewood shortage, just as Trondheim-based newspaper Adresseavisen was reporting the coldest late-winter days in 60 years.

Minus-30s from north to south
Thermometers were indeed showing some remarkably low temperatures. It was minus-26C at Bjørnholt in Nordmarka, the popular forest area bordering Oslo’s northern neighbourhoods, in the minus-30s in several areas of inland Hedmark County in the southeast and minus-35.5 in Kautokeino in Norway’s northernmost county of Finnmark.

It was paradoxically almost balmy on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, however, which reported temperatures of plus-4c (38F) in Ny-Ålesund, because the cold Siberian high-pressure system was located farther to the south and over Europe, where even Rome got some snow. “That says something about the contrasts here,” state meteorologist Rafael Escobar Løvdahl told newspaper Aftenposten. He said that when a high-pressure system is centered of Northern Scandinavia, warmer low-pressure systems from the south move around it and north to Svalbard.

While it was raining on Svalbard’s main island of Spitsbergen, boat operators off Norway’s southern coast were warned that ice can quickly form in the cold and wind. Flags were flying briskly in an otherwise sunny but cold Oslo Tuesday morning, with warnings also up that strong winds through the week would make the predicted temperatures of around minus-10C and lower seem much colder. “Chill factors” aren’t normally a big issue in Norwegian cities, but this winter they are.

Løvdahl and his colleagues were forecasting that the cold weather would likely last around seven days, into next week.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund