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WEATHER

Swedish road deaths plunge to record low

The wintry weather in Sweden has led to a record low number of road deaths, new figures from the Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) show.

During January and February accidents on Sweden’s roads claimed 32 lives, with only seven in February.

“This is the first time since the 1920s that we have seen a single figure for the number of fatalities in a month,” said Lena Erixon, director-general at the administration, to news agency TT.

Large piles of snow at the sides of the roads, and lower speeds on roads with wintry conditions, are some of the reasons given for the low fatality rate. The winter has also meant that fewer two-wheeled vehicles, and their unprotected riders, have been on the roads.

Over the past five years the number of deaths in traffic during January and February has averaged 57. Last year the figure was 42.

Despite its advantages, the snow has caused problems for the Road Administration’s budget. Snow clearance during the first two months of 2010 has meant that the operating budget will be exceeded by 170 million kronor ($24 million), presuming that the weather for the rest of the year is normal.

“This means that we will have to spend less money on asphalting roads than previously planned. But on the other hand, we were able to spend more on that last year as the winter was milder than normal,” said Lena Erixon.

“We adjust these expenditures over the years,” she said.

One uncertain factor with regard to the authority’s costs for the severe winter is the frost damage to roads. Frost has impacted even the far south of Sweden this year, which is unusual.

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WEATHER

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. 

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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. 

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