Ice and snow cause motorway mayhem

The E4 motorway was closed between Gävle and Söderhamn in northern Sweden on Friday afternoon after over 50 accidents were recorded in the icy conditions.

Ice and snow cause motorway mayhem

Emergency services took the decision to close the motorway – the country’s main road artery traversing almost the full length of Sweden – shortly before 3pm on Friday, causing major delays.

“It has been chaotic,” Göran Lyrberg at Gävle police told local newspaper Gefle Dagblad.

The decision was taken to enable emergency services to clear the road of cars and debris following the slew of accidents.

Southbound traffic was diverted via Bollnäs, Ockelbo and Sandviken on road 272 and the northbound traffic was diverted onto road 583.

Despite the large number of vehicles involved in the accidents there were no reports of any injuries.

The harsh weather which has swept across the country in recent had consequences for traffic in several areas, especially around Stockholm and further south.

As temperatures plunged towards -15 degrees Celsius in Stockholm, police reported that 55 accidents had been recorded in the county over the course of the day.

One person was seriously injured in a crash involving two cars on Nockeby bridge shortly after 2pm.

The Baltic island of Öland decided to suspend school transport services on Friday morning due to persistent snowfalls.

Sweden’s meteorological office SMHI issued a weather warning for a large part of the Swedish east coast.

“If you don’t really have to go outside it is best to stay home,” said Hasse Johannesson, responsible for clearing snow from roads on Öland, to radio station SR Kalmar.

The wintry weather, dubbed in the media as the “Siberian chill”, swept across Sweden earlier in the week abruptly ending a long period of unseasonably mild weather.

Most of Norrland is currently experiencing temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius and below, with the -42 degrees Celsius recorded in Kvikkjokk constituting a record for the winter so far.

The cold weather is meanwhile set to retain its tight grip on the country in the coming days with forecasts indicating that Stockholm residents can look forward to lows of -20 degrees Celsius on Sunday.

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Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

Sweden's state-owned rail company SJ cancelled several train services on Tuesday as a result of the snowy weather, while forecasters warned that roads could still be slippery in many regions.

Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

SJ is cancelling several regional trains on Tuesday between Stockholm and Uppsala, Stockholm and Västerås, and Gävle and Linköping at the request of the Swedish Transport Administration, which wants to free up space on the tracks. 

At the same time, weather forecaster SMHI warned that, while snowfall would decrease over the day, there would still be a risk of slippery roads in many areas.

“It’s still continuing to snow, but the intensive snowfall we are now warning about will come to an end during the day, starting in the south of the country,” state meteorologist Angelica Lundberg told the TT newswire.  “Over the coming days there may be an increased risk of slipping and this is the case most of all close to the coast.” 

Bengt Olsson, press officer for the Swedish Transport Administration, told SVT that the disruptions seen on Sunday and Monday looked likely to ease off on Tuesday. 

“It’s a bit calmer so far. There’s another type of road surface to day. It’s starting to freeze up a but. There’s a lot of crust from the snow and patches of ice out on the road, so its the risk of skidding that we are trying to deal with today.”

The slippery roads have led to some busses being cancelled, with Dalatrafiken, the bus operator in Dalarna, cancelling several regional bus services. 

Buses parked at the Keolis bus depot in Värtahamnen cruise terminal in Stockholm.
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Stockholm’s transport operator SL suspended the Lindingöbanan Light-railway line on Tuesday morning, and has also reduced some commuter train services. In Söderort, Huddinge and Botkyrka all bus services have been cancelled. 

“The measures taken to prevent skidding aren’t working,” SL’s press spokesperson Andreas Strömberg told SVT. “At Juliaborg in Huddinge six of our buses got stuck, so the traffic controllers decided to cancel all further services so we can get in snow ploughs.

Snow was continuing to fall on Tuesday over much of central Sweden, and SMHI has issued the lowest “yellow” weather warning for Sörmland, Västmanland, Örebro, Dalarna, and the north of Värmland. 

In most places, there is now between 5cm-15cm of snow, with 20cm in some places.