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Sweden hit by wet and wild weather

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Sweden hit by wet and wild weather
11:50 CEST+02:00
A series of isolated, violent thunderstorms wreaked havoc across southern and central Sweden on Wednesday, flooding roads, damaging buildings, and killing three horses.

The violent weather caught many Swedes off guard following several days of high temperatures and clear skies.

In Skara, in south central Sweden, a 100 square metre section of rooftop came crashing down into a shopping centre after being dislodged by heavy winds.

“The roof fell down to the floor. It came down over an escalator which goes up to the second floor,” said emergency worker Joakim Ramåker to the TT news agency.

“It happened when the store was full of people, but luckily no one was underneath. It was pure chance that no one was headed up the escalator when it happened.”

The roof collapse was one of many problems caused by a line of heavy thunderstorms which rumbled through the area.

“It caused both fires and floods. In the end, we had to block off several areas. It was impossible to drive a car into Skara,” said Ramåker.

Emergency crews also received more than 40 calls about flooded buildings, and thousands of homes were without power.

“It started raining at 1pm, but the downpour came around 2pm. Then it rained like crazy for about an hour. You could barely see out the window,” Skara municipality spokesperson Tina Jörhall told TT.

“I've never seen so much rain in Sweden.”

Route 50 north of Ludvika in central Sweden was also closed on Wednesday evening near Håksberg due to flooding.

Emergency crews at first feared that a dam had burst, but after inspecting the structure ruled that the floods had been caused by the heavy rainfall.

The unpredictable weather also made a mockery of rain measurements from Sweden's meteorological agency, SMHI, in Lund in southern Sweden.

Despite thousands of residents being soaked by isolated downpours, SMHI's rain gauges registered no rainfall at all on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is an excellent example of how extremely localized thunderstorms can be,” SMHI meteorologist Alexandra Ohlsson told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

Lightning strikes from a thunderstorm also killed three horses near a pasture south of Växjö in south central Sweden.

The lightning first struck a tree in a wooded area adjacent to the horse pasture, before continuing down into the ground where the animals stood, electrocuting all three.

“I screamed loud enough to be heard in the entire parish when I found them,” owner Chatrin Stensson told the Smålandsposten newspaper.

“I was so shocked I just stood and stared. My husband Andreas had to drag me away from the pasture because it was still thundering.”

According to SMHI, Wednesday was Sweden's stormiest day so far this year, with the agency registering more than 20,000 lightning strikes around the country.

The forecast for Thursday includes a chance for continued isolated thunderstorms in Sweden's far south, with warm temperatures covering much of the country.

On Friday, increasing cloud cover will slide down over much of the country as a cooler air makes its way south.

While temperatures will remain between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius in southern Sweden, temperatures are expected to dip to 20 degrees or lower in much of the rest of the country.

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