‘Winter holiday’ is the new Easter

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The first week of Norway’s traditional winter holiday began on Monday, but with temperatures well above the freezing point even in many mountain areas, it’s resembling spring much more than winter. Some are calling it “the new Easter,” which itself comes so late this year that many may be heading abroad instead of out skiing.

This is what many Norwegians off on winter holiday this week want to experience. Instead, snow is melting all over Southern Norway. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Snow and ice have been melting all over central and southern Norway this week. Only the northern parts of the country in Finnmark and Troms could promise cold weather and lots of snow. Schools in Finnmark are closed for winter holiday this week, along with those in Oslo, Akershus, Hedmark, Sogn og Fjordane, Agder, Trøndelag, Telemark, Vestfold and Østfold. That means lots of parents take off, too, with the commuter rush in Oslo visibly quieter now than it normally is.

Those heading up to hotels and hytter even in the high mountains of Hovden, though, were met with large puddles of water and slushy ski tracks, reported state broadcaster NRK earlier this week. Some areas were reporting temperatures as high as 10C (50F).

“This is more like the weather can be at Easter, not in the middle of February,” state meteorologist Aslaug Skålevik Valved told news bureau NTB. She put the snow level at 800- to 1,000 meters above sea level. If precipitation comes any lower, it will fall as rain, not snow.

“February has been unusually warm,” agreed climate researcher Jostein Mamen at the state Meteorologic Institute. “At the same time, the winters east of the mountains have been unusually mild every year for the past five years.”

That’s been turning Norway’s vinterferie weeks (schools will be closed in Buskerud, Hordaland, Møre og Romsdal, Oppland and Rogaland next week, and in Odda, Voss, Nordland and Troms the week after that) into bigger skiing weeks than Easter, Mamen told NTB, because Easter has become too warm with little snow.

The same could be said, though, by those currently on a week’s holiday in Oppland and Hordaland, where thermometers hit 14C leading into last weekend. Skiers elsewhere are using the gooey stuff called klister instead of wax on their skis to give them better grip on the snow that’s still lying on the ground.

“It’s not entirely unexpected, but it is perhaps a bit early,” said Hege Blidhfeldt Sheriff of the Oslo-based ski association Skiforeningen. Mild days and cold nights are yielding hard and icy ski trails in the morning and slushy ones in the afternoon, fine for all those simply staying in town during the winter holiday week, where most sidewalks and streets are now drier and often free of snow and ice.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund