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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Several places around Sweden broke temperature records over the weekend, as unusually warm weather for March bathed the northern half of the country.

Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Torpshammar, near Sundsvall in Västernorrland, on Sunday recorded a temperature of 16.8C.

This was the highest temperature registered anywhere in the country so far this year, although Gävle and Delsbo in Gävleborg were close behind, with both recording a temperature of 16.7C. 

“It’s been warm across the country, but it’s been mostly in the middle and north of Norrland that we’ve had temperatures that are a long way above normal,” Ida Dahlström, a meteorologist with state weather forecaster SMHI, told the TT newswire.

For Delsbo 16.7C is the highest temperature recorded in March since records began in 1898. The cities of Kiruna and Umeå, and the harbour town of Örskär, where records began in 1898, 1858, and 1937 respectively, also all set new March records.

Gäddede and Frösön, both close to the Norwegian border in Jämtland, registered the warmest March day since 1945, while the nearby Storlien registered the warmest March day since 1881.

Dahlström said that cold wind would soon bring an end to the balmy temperatures, with snow expected on Tuesday in many of the central parts of Sweden currently enjoying unusual spring warmth. 

Last year, Sweden recorded the third-hottest June on record, with Stockholm seeing its hottest ever month.

“June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in my hometown Stockholm, by a large margin,” climate campaigner Greta Thunberg tweeted at the time. “The second hottest June was in 2020. The third in 2019,” she added.

“Am I sensing a pattern here? Nah, probably just another coincidence.”