I’m in London at the moment, which makes it clearer to me that spring has arrived, or at least should have. Back home in Norway, it was still sub-freezing, but there have been warmer days, but the change of season doesn’t quite sink in until the warmth has managed to dispel the snow.
Still, there are signs that the winter is ending, and after a hard one, the change can be slightly traumatic. This means avalanche watch has been in effect across much of Norway, and there have been some spectacular falls of snow and some communities have been isolated either by snowslides or by the imminent danger they pose.
An avalanche in Sunndal halted dramatically virtually at the door of a day care center, and harmed no one. In the same area 10,000 tons of snow hit a cabin and just bypassed a nearby residential area, again harming no one, though forcing local evacuations.
At one point 24 major roads were closed, most of them in Møre og Romsdal County, though Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Troms and Finnmark counties had similar problems. Norway’s Geological Institute warned that the risk of avalanches would extend through the spring.
In the capital, the dark sign of spring is roof slides, where snow but also deadly ice and icicles are a lethal part of city life. A colleague of mine was nearly killed by such a sudden ice shower in downtown Oslo in a previous winter, and another gruesome accident in the same neighborhood left a 24-year-old man in a coma.
The City of Oslo is now planning to hike the fine for not clearing roofs of ice and snow from buildings, by sensibly raising the penalty higher than the cost of clearance, which should finally get owners to take responsibility.
State broadcaster NRK found a way to drive the state of the nation home in a rather quirky way, by finding its impact on the national dish (the frozen Grandiosa pizza). ‘Danger shops can run out of Grandiosa’ was Aftenposten’s take on the calamity. “Forty of our cars are stuck at different avalanche areas.
The transport of pizza, furniture and fish out of the county, and dairy and other products into the county, have been hindered by the snow chaos,” a transport manager in Ålesund told NRK. Note the priority of the disruptions listed.
The short bulletins warned that trucks were not going to reach vital points in time, and that supplies to shops in the Ålesund and Oslo regions were in danger of being cut off from Grandiosa shipments – the pizza originates in Møre og Romsdal County, which is one of the hardest hit by the avalanche season.
This is a story that will definitely remain in focus.