Snow cover sets new winter record

Summer has been a long time coming for Storlien-Visjövalen ski resort in central Sweden, near the Norwegian border, where the last of the snow only melted away on Wednesday.

Snow cover sets new winter record

The late thaw contributed to the longest continuous period of snow cover in the region for at least 60 years, according to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).

Normally, these types of statistics do not extend back beyond 1961, but for the Jämtland resort of Storlien, SMHI has records reaching back to 1951. The SMHI defines a continuous period with snow cover as snow depth of at least 1 cm.

It has been a remarkable snow season in Storlien-Visjövalen. The area received its first snowfall on September 29th last year.

At times in the early winter, the snow cover was only a few centimetres deep, but it never melted away. However, the maximum snow depth this winter was thinner than normal.

Storlien was not the only place where the snow cover remained for an unusually long period of time. Southern Sweden was hit with the harshest winter in about 20 years with unusually heavy snowfall.

“The reason is that we had a pretty warm fall when it suddenly changed to the usual colder air,” said SMHI in a statement. “Now only Högfjället in Sälen still has snow cover.”

Because of a long period of cool weather and heavy precipitation, snow cover is still increasing in higher locations in the Alps. Austria’s Sonnblick, which is over 3,000 metres above sea level, now has 665 cm of snow depth, which is a record in June.

In parts of southern Sweden this winter’s snow cover lasted longer than in any year since the 1970s or 1980s.

In much of southern Sweden, the winter of 1969-70 holds the record for the longest-lasting snow cover in the past 50 years. To the north, a number of winters have claimed the record, including the winter of 1992-93.

This may seem somewhat remarkable given that it was an unusually mild winter. However, the snow cover was formed in October during a record cold snap and later in the season, westerly winds resulted in large amounts of snow especially in the mountains in Lapland.

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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.