January thaw causes chaos across Sweden

Flooding, stalled vehicles, and falling ice are just a few of the problems facing Swedes in the wake of an early-January thaw.

January thaw causes chaos across Sweden
Ice also caused problems on roads in Uddevalla, western Sweden, on Saturday

A number of vehicles have skidded off roads in southern Sweden this weekend and more than 40 long-haul trucks are literally stuck in their tracks on the E4 motorway near Nyköping in eastern Sweden.

Three people were also sent to hospital following an collision between a bus and a car on the same stretch of road on Sunday morning, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reported.

“You have to be careful on your way to work to not end up being one of those counted in statistics,” said Skåne police spokesperson Cindy Schönström-Larsson to the TT news agency.

While warmer temperatures have caused slippery conditions on roads in some parts of Sweden, roads have been flooded by melting snow and ice in other areas, primarily in Halland and västra Götaland in western and southern Sweden.

In addition, bus service in Östragötland County in southeastern Sweden has been severely disrupted, according to Sveriges Radio (SR), with re-routings or cancelations affecting at least ten routes.

“It’s really slippery on certain roads,” police spokesperson Mariana Persson told TT.

At least three people have also been injured by falling ice as warmer temperatures have loosen snow and ice on buildings throughout the country.

A block of falling ice fell four stories and hit and 87-year-old woman in the head around 10pm on Saturday night in Malmö in western Sweden. The woman was hospitalised following the incident and police are considering filing a report against the building owner, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported on Sunday.

Earlier on Saturday, a 31-year-old Stockholm woman was sent to hit by falling ice on St. Eriksgatan in central Stockholm. A short time later, a 43-year-old man was hit by a chunk of falling ice near Stureplan. Both were sent to hospital for treatment.

Emergency crews have also been busy responding to calls to help Swedes pump water out of flooded basements and other spaces.

Some buildings have also had their attics flooded because water from melting snow can’t make its way through drainage pipes which remain clogged with ice.

Frozen drainage pipes resulted in water damage to offices at the football stadium in Borås in western Sweden, according to Sveriges Radio.

As long as time permits, emergency crews plan to continue assisting with problems and damages caused by flooding.

“But if there is a fire, we’ll prioritise it,” emergency services spokesperson Markus Bodén told the radio station.

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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.”