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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Blizzard blasted through the south

More heavy snow and strong winds snarled traffic all over Southern Norway on Friday, even halting it in some areas. Many motorists, though, heeded warnings and opted against trying to drive, according to statistics from highway and road toll authorities.

This was the scene on the normally busy RV4 highway over Gjelleråsen in Oslo at 4pm on Friday. Heavy snow caused more problems for motorists and public transport all over Southern Norway. PHOTO: Statens vegvesen web camera

The southern city of Halden, just over the border from Sweden, suspended all bus transport Friday afternoon after several skidded off slippery roads and even overturned. Driving conditions were so hazardous that local transit authority Østfold kollektivtraffik didn’t want to risk more accidents.

More than 170 bus lines were halted in Oslo and the surrounding county of Viken, after the heavy snow and wind caused chaos again on routes in and around the capital. An airport bus also tipped over on RV 110 between Råde and Fredrikstad, with several passengers on board. There were no serious injuries.

The commuter rush was strangely absent heading into and out of Oslo, even at 4pm on Friday. This photo was taken on the E18 highway just west of downtown. PHOTO: Staten vegvesen

Train service was also suffering. A key commuter route between Oslo and Lillestrøm had to shut down twice during the day, prompting more apologies also over the cancellations and delays spurred by the closure of the new Follobanen line south of Oslo. “We are very sorry for the situation as it is now, and understand that customers are disappointed,” wrote train operator Vy in a press release. “We are too.”

Many passengers were also left waiting indefinitely on the platforms at Oslo’s central station because of weather-related problems on the lines west towards Asker and Drammen. Ice and snow jammed switches on the tracks, and there was also trouble on the lines towards Holmestrand and Tønsberg and farther south at Vennesla, where wind and snow knocked out electrical cables. One train had to return to Kristiansand because it wasn’t safe to continue.

Several mountain highways were closed, including the E6 over Dovrefjell. Two large trucks slid off the E16 highway at Lomen in Valdres, but police were trying to divert traffic around them. The main E134 highway between Oslo and Bergen remained open but only for organized convoys between the tunnel at Haukeli and Liamyrene. The RV 13 over Vikafjellet and RV 52 over Hemsedalfjellet were closed, as were FV 50 between Hol and Aurland, FV 53 between Tyin and Årdal and FV27over Venabydgsfjellet.

The severe winter weather that led to white-out conditions in downtown Oslo Friday afternoon began earlier in the week and clearly discouraged driving. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that toll receipts on roads into and out of the city were down more than 30 percent on Wednesday, when there also was a snowstorm. Many downtown streets and the E18 highway leading into Oslo from the west were strangely quiet late Friday, even during the late afternoon commuter rush hours. More snow was expected through the weekend.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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