Cold cuts risk of mountain falling

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Norway’s cold summer weather this year is unpopular, but it has reduced new warnings that the country’s unstable mountain known as Mannen might literally fall down to the valley below. Snow that fell on its summit during the night was actually welcome, also in July.

The mountains here in Romsdal where Mannen is located were dusted with snow during the night, reducing the danger that one of them would crash down to the valley below. PHOTO: NSB

It got even colder Monday night at the top of the mountain in scenic Romsdalen that’s been causing problems for years. Freezing temperatures actually cause the rocky peak to firm up, making it less likely that large chunks of the mountain will break off and crash down on the roughly dozen residents still living under it.

They’d been evacuated once again during the weekend, the popular Raumabanen train line that runs through the valley below had been halted and some roads closed for safety reasons. Mannen was acting up again, sending large rocks tumbling its steep sides.

Then the recent batch of cold and rainy weather  got worse and turned into snow. While most Norwegians are bemoaning this year’s cold summer so far, the locals were relieved that snow started falling not only at the summit but farther down the mountain as well. Snow is normally far from welcome in July, but this time it came as good news.

“The rate of movement in the mountain was quite large Monday evening,” geologist Gudrun Dreiås Majala of the state agency in charge of monitoring Mannen, NVE, told state broadcaster NRK on Tuesday, “but during the night and today we see a clear trend that the movement has been reduced.”

With the cold weather set to continue through the week, and more precipitation coming as snow, the danger level was also reduced and residents were allowed to move home on Tuesday. NVE replaced its “red alert” with the lower level of orange.

As things returned to normal in the valley that attracts thousands of tourists every summer, residents made it clear they still don’t want to move. The small farms where they live have been in their families for generations, and they’ve earlier refused proposals that the county government could buy them out.

Local mayor Lars Olav Hustad told NRK that repeated evacuations are a burden for the residents, but when the danger level recedes they want to go home. “That’s what always makes them see light at the end of the tunnel,” Hustad said. “If there’s no rock slide, they can stay where they are.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund