Avalanche danger isolates Arctic communities

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Norway’s North Cape and the fishing village of Berlevåg were among communities left isolated this week by either avalanches or the danger of them. In Berlevåg, shelves were bare at the local grocery store when it wasn’t able to receive fresh supplies heading into the long Easter holiday weekend.

The main E69 highway up to the North Cape was closed and Honningsvåg was cut off as well. Snowslides have hit the road in several places and the risk of a major avalanche was high.

Several other roads in West Finnmark were also closed, including the main E6 highway over the mountain range Kvænangsfjellet between Troms and Alta.  Farther to the northeast in Varanger, the only road into Berlevåg had to close late last week.

Stormy weather also prevented Berlevåg’s only other access mode, the shipping line Hurtigruten, unable to tie up. With no airport either, the small community was cut off from the rest of the world.

“I’ve never experienced this before, said Joan Vang Nilsen, who has run the local grocery store since 2001, told state broadcaster NRK. Milk supplies ran out last Saturday along with fresh fruit. “We’ve had to rely on Hurtigruten to get supplies on earlier occasions, but have never run out like this.”

Some of the overhanging ice and snow that threatened the highway were due to be blasted away, to allow the road to reopen. Better weather would also allow Hurtigruten to dock with fresh supplies on board. Grocery stores traditionally close on Thursday and Friday during Easter Week in Norway, but Nilsen said local residents could call her if they needed something that hadn’t been delivered by Wednesday afternoon.

newsinenglish.no staff