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Record warmth keeps Sweden's snow at bay

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16:46 CET+01:00
The unseasonably high temperatures across much of Sweden have left much of the country free of snow and has put autumn 2011 on track to be one of the warmest ever recorded in Sweden.

In Karesuando, considered to be Sweden's northernmost village, the warm autumn temperatures will likely smash the previous autumn high-temperature record by a full degree.

With barely a week left in November, the Svealand region in central Sweden and much of Norrland in the north are set to have one of the five warmest autumns ever, according to statistics from Swedish meteorological agency SMHI.

Temperatures in Götaland in the south, meanwhile, haven't been quite as high above normal.

Nationwide, this year's autumn will likely be among the ten warmest on record and most of Sweden remains free of snow cover.

Even up in Karesuando in the far north, snow cover is a mere two centimetres thick and the area around SMHI's northernmost weather station in Naimakka is completely void of any snow.

According to SMHI, however, colder temperatures and snow may be on the way for villages in Sweden's far north.

“Especially during the start of the day on Saturday it's going to get really windy in the mountains. There may be storm force winds combined with snow showers,” SMHI meteorologist Lovissa Andersson told the TT news agency.

In Götaland and Svealand, however, more mild temperatures mean that more rain will be on the way in the coming days and there is no sign of snow for most of the country until at least December.

So far, only the northernmost regions of Sweden have any snow at all, forcing anyone looking to go skiing to head up top Högland in southern Lappland, where a snow cover of merely eight centimetres is nevertheless the thickest in all of Sweden.

Leif Vilhemsson, who lives just south of the Swedish-Finnish border, said the lack of snowfall is extremely unusual this late in the year.

“Usually winter is in full-swing by this time with 15 to 20 centimetres of snow on the ground,” he told TT.

On the upside, according to Vilhemsson, the lack of snow cover makes it easy for him to get around.

“I'm out on my four-wheeler and my snowmobile, but one can just as easily walk in the forest right now, there's nothing to get in the way,” he said.

The mild weather has also forced operators of the Ice Hotel outside of Kiruna to implement creative measures to ensure that the hotel could open as planned on Thursday, despite the delay in Mother Nature's natural cooling.

“We placed cooling tubes in the ground last summer. With them we were able to make artificial permafrost in early September,” co-owner Arne Bergh told the Dagens Industri daily.

The cooling system, along with a blast of cold air last weekend that saw temperatures drop to minus 20 degree Celsius, allowed the Ice Hotel to produce enough of the snow-ice mixture, used to help build the structure, to stay on schedule for Thursday's record-early opening, set to coincide with a conference attended by 600 German tour operators.

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