Icebreakers do battle with Swedish waters

All but one of Sweden's icebreakers have been called into action as half of the Gulf of Bothnia separating Sweden and Finland freezes over.

Icebreakers do battle with Swedish waters

With meteorological agency SMHI forecasting more cold weather for the coming weeks, the big freeze seems set to stay.

Even Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund, waterways off the west and south-west coasts that are generally spared the ice treatment, risk freezing over as the cold snap continues.

“At the moment it’s so gusty that new ice hardly has time to settle. But the waters have really cooled down, so if the wind eases off it could happen quickly,” said Johny Lindvall, deputy head of shipping at the Swedish Maritime Administration (Sjöfartsverket).

Six of the agency’s seven icebreakers have already been put to work, with the seventh, Ymer, ready for action at the end of the week. One of the icebreakers, Ale, is currently assisting in the northern Kvarken area in the Gulf of Bothnia but may be redirected to Lake Vänern should the need arise.

The last time the Gulf iced over so far south was in 2006 when the freeze stretched as far as Oskarshamn and the Swedes enlisted the help of their Danish neighbours, whose icebreakers had remained quayside for the previous fifteen years.

“We leased their icebreaker Danbjörn,” said Johnny Lindvall.

“They were very enthusiastic. We called on a Friday and the Danbjörn arrived at Oskarshamn on the Tuesday. The only thing was that none of those on board had ever been out in the ice before, not even the captain. So we had to put an old icebreaker captain on board as supervisor. But then everything went fine,” he added.

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So did Sweden beat its all-time temperature record on Thursday? Not quite

Sweden on Thursday came close to beating its 75-year-old temperature record, but fell short by just under one degree with a top temperature of 37.2C.

So did Sweden beat its all-time temperature record on Thursday? Not quite

The village of Målilla in Småland came close to beating the 38C heat record it set in 1947, logging a temperature of 37.2C. 

“It’s the highest temperature recorded in Sweden since 1947,” Mattias Lind, a meteorologist at Sweden’s state forecaster SMHI, told the country’s TT newswire. 


As the punishing heat seen across the rest of Europe briefly rose up to touch Sweden, several cities beat their own records, with Linköping setting a new record with a 36.9C temperature. The city of Jönköping, with 35.3C, recorded the highest temperature since records began in 1858. 

Even the north of Sweden saw the mercury rise above 30C, with Gävle recording a temperature of 33.5C.

Temperatures are forecast to drop significantly on Friday, sinking below 20C across the country on Saturday, with thunder storms expected in many areas.