Why has snow and ice caused travel chaos in Norway?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Why has snow and ice caused travel chaos in Norway?
Snowy weather has caused travel chaos across Norway this week Pictured is Finse train station. Photo by Sindre Bøyum on Unsplash

Roads, trains, busses and trams have all been affected by snow and ice in Norway this week. So why has the weather brought transport to a standstill when everything normally runs like clockwork in the winter?


Southern and eastern Norway have seen heavy snowfall from Wednesday onwards, with the weather expected to continue into the weekend.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the winter weather heavily affected travel in Oslo, with sections of its transport network across busses, trams, trains and metro lines all seeing delays and disruption in some form.

In addition, motorists have been asked by police and road traffic officials to reconsider driving and whether their journeys are necessary due to the conditions on the roads.

And on Friday, several of Norway’s busiest lines are expected to be hit with delays throughout the day.


So, how has a country synonymous with snow seen travel so severely affected by the white stuff this week?

Firstly, while the country runs typically like clockwork during the winter and throughout snow showers, the weather this week has been far from typical in southern and eastern Norway.

Norway’s Meteorological Institute issued an orange warning for snow earlier this week. In and around Oslo, around 25cm of snow was forecast daily, and 60-70 cm have been predicted to fall by the end of the week.

Orange alerts are for when serious weather situations may occur, and the public is advised to “be prepared”. The fact that an orange alert has been issued for the snow should indicate that the amount of snowfall seen in Norway has been unusual.

Below you can see the areas where the most snowfall is expected. 

Constant heavy snowfall can make it hard for roads and rail tracks to remain clear, even when snow-clearing operations are in place 24 hours a day.

“The ploughing crews are out 24 hours a day. They and the tow trucks have had enough (work) to do,” traffic operator Annie Serup told Norwegian newswire NTB on Friday morning.

Additionally, train issues will persist in Norway as long as the snowfall remains particularly heavy. This occurs because snow settles on the tracks faster than the heat from the switches and signals is able to melt it.

“The snow is in the process of building up, and then you can only look at the weather forecast. As long as there is heavy snowfall and wind, we will struggle with the track switches,” Olav Nordli, a press officer at Bane Nor, told Norwegian newswire NTB.

“We are working hard to solve the problems, but occasionally you have to go out and sort things out with a broom and spade, and that takes some time. In addition, there is a challenge in the places where ice lumps from the trains settle in the switches,” Nordli added.


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