Winter returned with a vengeance

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A long stretch of springlike weather in southern Norway ended abruptly this week with snowstorms and strong winds, followed by rain at lower elevations. As much as 50 centimeters of snow fell in some areas, setting off all kinds of accidents, especially in the southeast.

This was just one of many weather-related incidents making life difficult for bus drivers in Oslo on Thursday. Nearly 20 centimeters of snow fell even at lower elevations, like here in Vika. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“It’s been hectic,” operations leader Terje Skaftnes of the eastern police district told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Thursday morning. “It’s because of the demanding road conditions when there’s so much snow.”

Cars collided, trucks skidded off roads and Oslo’s bus system had lots of problems when heavy wet snow was falling much faster than it could be cleared away. One bus jack-knifed on a city street right after leaving Tjuvholmen at the beginning of a lengthy cross-town route. That made it difficult for other cars and buses to get around it.

Meanwhile, parents trying to deliver young children to a nearby day care center had to have help getting strollers and baby carriages through the drifts. It was all but impossible to ride bicycles or electric scooters. Walking became the surest means of getting around.

“Trams and the metro are running, but it’s very difficult for the bus drivers in our area,” said Øystein Dahl Johansen of Oslo’s public transport operator Ruter. “There are lots of cancelled bus routes and lengthy delays.” Things were much worse farther to the east in Stange, where a bus driver was killed in a head-on collision with another bus.

Dozens of traffic accidents
There were at least 40 car accidents reported by midday Thursday just in the Oslo region. Large trucks had the biggest problems on slick highways, and there was a fatal accident at Nesbyen in Hallingdal, when a car collided head on with a truck. The 19-year-old woman driving the car was killed. Lots of cars ran off roads and into ditches, with one motorist in Horten rushed to hospital after his car flipped over on its side.

Nearly all highways and roads over the mountains were closed or reduced to convoy-driving. Only Filefjell was open for normal traffic. The main highway over Dovre to Trondheim was also closed but later reopened.

Strong winds also made bridges hazardous, including the Skarnsund Bridge in Trøndelag where gusts lifted up a trailer and flung it into the guardrail. A schoolbus was toppled by strong winds at Nærøysund, but there were no injuries.

The weather was also rough in Northern Norway, where the main E6 highway was closed over Saltfjellet. Weather forecasters predicted the rough weather would continue until Friday, when the sun was expected to return, at least in the south. At least skiers were happy, welcoming fresh snow on ski trails that earlier had turned into hard ice in recent weeks.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund