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Southern Sweden braced for spring floods

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09:51 CEST+02:00
Most of Sweden is still covered by snow but weather forecasters are predicting a decisive, if late, shift from winter to spring during the next few days. And that has led to warnings of spring floods in the south of the country.

"The spring floods are beginning now - water levels in streams and rivers are rising quickly," said Göran Lindström, a hydrologist at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, to Dagens Nyheter.

Snow levels in southern Sweden are higher than normal for this time of year. It looks like many parts of the country south of Stockholm will have the full 31 days of snow cover in March - and for most places that has not happened more than a handful of times since 1961.

Lund and Gothenburg have only been covered by snow for the whole of March once in the last 35 years. In Stockholm it has happened six times and in Karlstad only eight times.

In the north of the country, however, there has been "a sensational lack of snow", according to SMHI. In the Storsjö area there is currently 5-10 cm of snow, compared to a usual depth of half a metre.

But in the south of the country, local councils are following melting developments carefully - and the rescue services are on standby with sandbags and pumps.

Ljungby, 80km west of Växjö, was hit by floods two years ago, and this time the authorities are not taking any chances.

"Here we have between 2,000 and 3,000 sandbags," said Ola Johannesson, head of the local rescue services, to Swedish Radio.

"They've been used on several occasions and we've kept them in case the water comes back."

The nearby river Lagan is still at a safe level but that could change as temperatures climb rapidly with warm air drifting up from further south.

Other communities along the Lagan are preparing for the big melt too, reported SR. Worst hit in 2004 was Värnamo, while in eastern Småland, a little further north, local councils are keeping a close eye on the Emån river.

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