Thick Baltic ice causes ferry havoc

Cancellations and delays to ferry services are forecast to persist into Thursday as the Baltic Sea experiences its iciest conditions in 14 years. Several vessels are stuck in the ice waiting for ice-breakers to set them free.

Thick Baltic ice causes ferry havoc

“With regards to ice cover we have not seen anything like it since 1996,” Johnny Lindvall at the Swedish Maritime Administration told news agency TT.

The recent extreme cold and hard northerly winds have meant that ice is being forced in towards the Swedish Baltic Sea coast. Twelve vessels were on Wednesday evening stuck in ice outside of Sundsvall while the ice-breaker Ymer battled to get them free. Outside of Umeå, the Atle was working together with the Finnish vessel Fennica.

The Local reported on Wednesday that Ånedin Lines Birger Jarl had got stuck in ice in Stockholm’s archipelago. The shipping line has since cancelled both Wednesday and Thursday departures.

“We want to transport our passengers in safety,” said Wolfgang Kukol at the firm.

Kukol confirmed that passengers were given the choice of a refund or re-booking their tickets.

Tallink’s freighter Sea Wind also ran into trouble in the thick ice on Wednesday with its next two journeys between Stockholm and Åbo postponed.

“We are keeping track of the situation,” Luulea Lääne at Tallink told TT.

The Viking Line ship Rosella managed to complete its afternoon journey as scheduled on Wednesday after having been obliged to cancel the morning trip.

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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.