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Why has Norway been caught off guard by snow? 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Why has Norway been caught off guard by snow? 
Eastern Norway has been caught off-guard by snowfall this week. Here's why the region has struggled to cope. Pictured are two hikers in the snow in Oslo. Photo by Shubham Singh on Unsplash

Much of east Norway has seen snowfall this week, which has caused accidents and delays on the roads and issues with public transport. 

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Norway is no stranger to snow, and typically, when the white stuff blankets the country, it's business as usual. 

However, eastern Norway has seen snowfall this week – which has caused chaos on the roads in Norway. 

On Thursday, Oslo's public transport provider, Ruter, issued a fresh warning of delays to travellers. 

"Although both Ruter and those responsible for road maintenance are prepared, delays and cancellations in public transport can occur. Ruter therefore encourages travellers to allow plenty of time," A press release from the public transport firm read. 

Throughout the week, Ruter's services have faced delays and disruptions, and on Monday, a number of buses got stuck during the snow. 

There have also been a number of accidents on roads in eastern Norway this week related to the weather. On Monday alone, there were over 1,500 callouts to accidents or cars having issues with the weather. 

Norway's transport minister, Jon-Ivar Nygård, has said that the government wants a review into the preparedness on Norway's roads. 

"I think it is natural that we go through this incident and look in particular at both ploughing readiness and whether such incidents are handled in a good way when this occurs," he said. 

One issue that has been identified is that drivers were not sufficiently prepared for the weather. Several drivers have lost their driving licences after using summer tyres during the snowfall. 

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The winter tyre season in Norway officially began on November 1st, with the snow first arriving on October 30th. 

Drivers were urged to either change their tyres or stay off the roads due to the snow. Norway's Public Roads Administration has hit out at motorists who took to the roads with summer tyres. 

"It is almost a little incomprehensible. I have to say that I'm a little surprised when experienced motorists hit the road with summer tires when snowy weather has been forecast several days in advance," Trude Lindstad from the road traffic centre told Norwegian newswire NTB. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about winter driving in Norway

Therefore, the earlier-than-typical snowfall clearly caught many motorists off guard. 

Unibuss, which operates 183 busses for Ruter, said it had only managed to change the tires on 40 busses on Monday. 

Ruter said that its busses run all-season tyres, which meant that the busses were suitably prepared for the weather. 

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Another factor which has contributed to difficulties is the amount of snowfall in a short amount of time. This makes it harder for ploughs to properly clear roads, as once they do, snow begins to accumulate again. 

This is why even in the height of winter when everyone has switched to winter tyres, heavy snowfall still causes issues on Norway's roads. 

Ruter has said that ploughing was one of the reasons why its services were delayed, and its busses were stranded on Monday. 

"Despite the fact that snowy weather had been announced, ploughing got underway late. As the snowy weather continued throughout the day, it took a long time from the time the plough crews were in one place until they returned," Ruter's spokesperson Benjamin Øveraas told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Joakim Hjertum, section manager for road operations in the Urban Environment Agency, has said that queues caused by the snow hindered ploughing operations. 

 "We preemptively salted the entire city in the early hours of Monday, but beyond the morning hours, our cars were also more and more obstructed by growing queues," he said. 

"Because of the wind, the light snow blew over the road and created a polishing effect. We see that the buses stopped in many places, even where it was well ploughed," he added. 

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