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Extreme water levels in Sweden's far north

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Extreme water levels in Sweden's far north
09:35 CEST+02:00
Water levels are rising rapidly in the Sangis river in Norrbotten, in northern Sweden, and meteorological institute SMHI has now issued their highest warning, Class 3, for the area.

A Class 3 warning means there is a risk of flooding, and of danger to the public. This is the most severe warning that SMHI can issue.

Rolf Kummus lives in Asmasjärvi, just outside Övertorneå. Normally his house is 65 metres away from the water.

On Saturday, the river was lapping at his land, just 20 or 30 metres from his main house. Some of the eight houses on his land had already been reached by the water.

“One cabin is at risk right now. The boarding is beneath water levels, and in the sauna there's something like 10 centimetres of water. We've taken out the electricity to avoid a short circuit,” said Rolf Kummu to news agency TT.

The water levels are extremely high, the highest in living memory, according to SMHI's hydrologist Kean Foster.

“This is a very serious situation, and there's a lot of water coming into the river right now,” he told TT.

Water flow rates in the Sangis river are around 15 cubic metres per second, according to SMHI. Right now nearly 56 cubic metres of water are flowing every second.

A Class 3 warning is issued perhaps one or two times per century.

Waters levels are also high on the nearby Torne and Råne rivers, and SMHI has issued a Class 2 warning in these areas.

Erik Karlsson is a fireman in Kalix municipality, but has a vacation home by Säivisnäs near the Sangis river's mouth. According to him, water levels in the river are usually at their highest when the ice breaks and clogs up the river's mouth.

“I've never experienced water levels this high after the ice melted,” said Karlsson to TT.

But the municipality's emergency services are perplexed by SMHI's water flow reports. Not a single call related to the high water levels has come in from those living in the Sangis area in the past couple of days.

“It's been completely silent,” said chief of rescue operations Arto Koivumaa to TT.

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