Heavy snow, strong winds and the problems they can cause for tranportation literally cut Northern and Southern Norway in half on Thursday. Both the main E6 highway and the Nordlandsbanen rail line were closed.
After weeks of conflict over many northern regions’ tough Corona quarantine regulations, which have prevented most people from traveling into Northern Norway or even between northern municipalities, it took Mother Nature to really freeze connections. Massive snowdrifts in the mountains of Saltfjellet blocked roads and railroad tracks, and brought all transit over the mountains to a standstill.
The weather was so bad, with so much snow, that state highway officials at Statens Vegvesen were forced to literally lower the boom on the main E6 highway at Sørelva. They warned motorists that it can take a long time before the highway can re-open because of strong wind and unusually deep snow.
“We have a lot of clearing to do before we can even allow convoy-driving on the E6,” Håvard Langmo, traffic operator at the local traffic control station.
Nor was it possible for motorists to resort to often-used detours through Sweden, because the borders are closed as a result of Corona virus containment measures. “The only alternative route is the coastal road RV 17 through Helgeland,” Langmo said, “but that’s a very long detour with two ferries.” Helgeland’s local municipalities have also imposed strict quarantine rules that could further hinder entry into local kommuner (townships).
Meawhile state railroad agency BaneNor reported that its Nordlandsbanen was also closed over Saltfjellet between Bolna and Lønsdal, after a train got stuck in the powerful snowstorm. Work was underway to free the train, but that was also expected to take a lot of time.
“There’s snow halfway up the locomotive,” Dag Svinsås, spokesman for BaneNor, to state broadcaster NRK. “We’ve sent in a huge snowplow and other equipment, but we’re struggling because of the terrible conditions.
Passengers were offered alternative bus transportation Thursday morning, but that didn’t help with the E6 closed as well.
Stormy weather, hail and strong winds were also reported all over the country, also as far south as Oslo. The bad weather brought some welcome rain, however, after weeks of zero precipitation and near-constant wind that had prompted some forest fire warnings.