Winter storm blows over Sweden

Traffic problems, flight delays and power outages were left in the wake of Sweden’s first major winter storm, which headed out to the Baltic Sea early on Monday morning boasting hurricane force winds.

Winter storm blows over Sweden

On the island of Örskär, located about 20 kilometres off the coast just south and east of Gävle in central Sweden, steady winds were clocked at 108 kilometres per hour just after 2am on Monday morning, with gusts reaching up to 140 kilometres per hour.

While winds were expected to slow on Monday, Anette Levin, a spokesperson for Sweden’s meteorological agency SMHI, warned that the effects of the winds would remain palpable.

“But even if things slowly begin to weaken, it’s still going to be quite blustery through the afternoon, so assume there will be continued problems during the morning and midday,” she told the TT news agency.

The snow and wind combined to cover the runway at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport with ice as maintenance crews were unable to keep the runway cleared.

A number of flights were redirected to nearby Bromma, Skavsta, and Norrköping airports, while other flights were delayed.

Several companies chose to cancel some flights altogether, including SAS, with more flights expected to be canceled on Monday morning.

Several local buses were canceled on Sunday night along the coast of Uppland in central Sweden when the storm hit.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Road Administration (Vägverket) had deployed all of its resources in an effort to keep area roads open, but was nevertheless unable to prevent a number of motorists from getting stuck in the snow.

“We have big problems on route 288 where one car is stuck. We have one person who has disappeared in Östhammar, but we can’t get there because traffic is stopped on 288, so we’re waiting for the ploughs so we can get through,” said Upppland police spokesperson Torbjörn Karlsson at 2:30am.

Later, Vägverket spokesperson Andreas Possmark told TT that route 288 had been cleared.

“So far we’ve got things relatively under control when you consider how much snow we’ve had,” he said.

There had not been any reports of major accidents, although a few trees had blown over onto the road near Tierp, between Uppsala and Gävle.

And roads in Stockholm appeared to be clear as of early Monday morning.

“All roads are passable, even the smaller roads,” said David Kernell from the Stockholm traffic management centre.

The storm has also caused a number of power outages, primarily along the Uppland coast.

Power company Vattenfall reported around 3am that close to 1,500 customers had lost power in Uppland, while around 800 households in Stockholm were also without electricity.


Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

Large areas of Sweden saw extreme levels of rain over the weekend, with the city of Linköping receiving more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, twice as it usually receives in the whole of August. 

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

According to Swedish weather forecaster SMHI, the Linköping-Malmslätt area received 96mm between Saturday night at 8am on Sunday morning. The area normally received between 60mm and 70mm in August as a whole. 

“There was such an absurd amount of rain that the data was at first rejected by our system,” Therese Fougman, a meteorologist at the forecaster, told Sweden’s TT newswire. “It is continuing to rain during the day, and it is lying in a band over Östergötland, Sörmland och further up towards Uppland, predicting there would be a further 40mm to 50mm in the next 12 hours. 

The downpours have led to flooding in several areas, and caused traffic problem with cars at risk of aquaplaning on roads such as the E18, which were covered in a thick layer of water. 

Lennart Ågren, who was the duty leader of rescue services in Östra Götaland, told TT on Sunday afternoon that rescuers had been called out to several floods in Linköping and Mantorp. 

“There were streets under water, and water was running into properties so we had to throw all our resources at it for several hours,” he said. 

In Jönköping, rescue services were called out to flooding at a school and in other places, while in Växjö, lightening hit close to the place where a student party was being held at the local university campus. 

In Linköping, rescue services told TT that they had been called out 30 times. “We’ve been stretched but have managed to handle it,” said Pedher Helmer, who was in charge of rescue services in Östergötland over the weekend. 

The heavy rain is expected to move to Blekinge, Skåne, Öland and Gotland over the coming days, with a risk for flooding.