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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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.