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Saturday, April 13, 2024

More winter storms grip Norway

Storm warnings were posted once again from the far north to the most southerly portions of Norway, just as Norwegians were heading into the winter holiday weekend. Roads were already closing in Finnmark, ferries were cancelled in Kristiansand and flood warnings were up all along the southern coast as snow turned into heavy rain.

Shifting temperatures and heavy snow in the hills above Oslo produced this mystical view over northern Nordmarka on Thursday. Heavy rain was forecast for Friday. PHOTO: Møst

Even Norway’s unflappable meteorologists are calling this winter the most severe in decades, perhaps even since the bitterly cold winter of 1942 when the country was also under the chill of Nazi German occupation. War is once again on the minds of many, but right now the battles are only against ice, heavy snowdrifts and possible flooding.

Storms were already pounding the Porsanger peninsula in Finnmarka Thursday evening. The E69 highway to the North Cape was closed north of Honningsvåg as was the Hønsa-Nordkapptunnel. At the opposite end of the country, forecasts of more powerful winds prompted Color Line to postpone or cancel ferry departures to Denmark from both Kristiansand and Larvik.

Flood warnings just one step below Code Red were also posted from Agder in the south up to Oslo and Akershus. The heavy rain expected on top of melting snow worried state officials who urged against driving that wasn’t necessary. The forecast was similar to what hit the Oslo area just last week, when major intersections were flooded and cars stranded.

Now predictions are for between 30 and 50 millimeters of rain over a 12-hour period begining late Thursday night, accompanied by strong winds gusting up to 30 meters per second. “The first part of Friday will be the worst,” duty chief Marit Berger told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The rain was expected to be heaviest in Agder and Telemark, but would also sweep across the Oslo Fjord to Fredrikstad and head northeast through Østlandet.

Heavy rain was also forecast along the west coast from Flekkefjord up to Haugesund, and farther inland, but would likely fall in the form of more snow, especially around Hovden. Officials at state waterways agency NVE urged residents to try to prevent damage in cellars by raising items up off the floors, and to secure any loose items outdoors. In Oslo, officials were scrambling to clear storm drains around the city, and remove ice blocks from local creeks.

Airports were also bracing for storms, with a spokesperson at OSL Gardermoen claiming they were prepared but it was too early to predict whether flights would be delayed or cancelled. OSL’s large fleet of snowplows have been in almost constant service this winter clearing runways, and haven’t always had capacity to plow around gate areas. Snow and slippery pavement thus caused problems for aircraft backing away from the gate, resulted in three collisions last week with both terminal fences and even between two Norwegian Air jets parked next to each other. Their wings collided, resulting in material damage to both that left them unable to fly. No one was injured, and passengers on board the departing flight to Kristiansand were delayed by a few hours while they waited for a replacement aircraft. Berglund



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