More strong winds hit traffic, services

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Roads were closed, flights grounded again and the popular tourist destination of Geiranger was isloated on Monday, following more strong winds and snow in the mountains of Southern Norway. The latest batch of bad weather was due to last at least through the day, and was stranding people and causing damage.

Many trucks like this were halted on Monday because of more severe storms in the mountains. Cars were too, as most mountain passes were forced to close. PHOTO: Statens vegvesen

Most mountain passes were either closed or restricted to driving behind escorted convoys only. They included the E16 highway over Filefjell, E134 over Haukelifjell, E6 over Dovre, RV152 over Hemsedalfjellet and FV50 between Aurland and Hol. RV7 over Hardanger vidda was closed, as was RV13 over Vika fjellet, RV15 over Strynefjellet and FV53 between Årdal and Tyin.

Warnings were posted against even trying to drive over the mountains, as reports of cars and trucks being swept off the roads came in. Several drivers were stranded and forced to spend the night in their vehicles, and avalanche danger was high.

“There’s snow and wind over all of Southern Norway,” John Andreas Omdal, a traffic operator at the state highway department, told Norwegian Broadcaster (NRK). There was some intermittent sunshine in the Oslo area on Monday, but also frequent gusts of strong winds Monday morning.

The airport in Ålesund was hit hard by the strong winds, with flights delayed or grounded Monday morning. Airports in Molde, Årø, Hovden and Ørsta-Volda were also reporting long delays. Several ferries were also forced out of service by the storm, leading to what police called “chaotic conditions” at the ferry pier in Molde.

The storm, which meteorologists referred to as a “polar low-pressure system ,” was accompanied by snow, hail and even lightning and thunder. Robin Sletthagen, a producer for NRK in Trondheim, said she was surprised by loud claps of thunder during the night. “At first I thought it had to be an explosion, or even a meteorite of some sort,” Sletthagen said. “I have never experienced weather like this.” NRK reported that the storm in Trondheim also damaged the facade of St Olav’s Hospital, tearing wood siding off a wall.

Residents of Geiranger, a popular tourist hub in the summer season, was isolated by the storm on Monday. Both roads in and out of Geiranger were closed, the community lost power and telephone service for several hours, and there was no Internet connection either.

“The situation now (at 12:40pm Monday) is that both the mobile network and the emergency network are still down,” Ingen Teigen, fire chief for the municipality of Stranda where Geiranger is located, told NRK. Roads were not expected to reopen for at least 24 hours and a satellite phone system was set up for emergency use. Ferry service was also cancelled.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund