Ice and floods hit Swedes on drive home

At least two people have been killed and several others hospitalised in car accidents across Sweden as heavy rain, flooding, snow and ice hit the country on a day when many were returning home from Christmas.

Ice and floods hit Swedes on drive home
A police car is towed to land after being stuck in deep water on a road outside Lund. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
In Östergötland, south of Stockholm, 13 traffic accidents took place just between 11:30am and 14:30am on Sunday, as a sudden drop in temperatures coated the E4 motorway in sheets of black ice. 
“Its a total ice rink here,” Swedish TV presenter Peter Siepen told Expressen after seeing an accident from his tourbus on the way to Växjö. “I saw from the bus how the car had been flipped over onto its roof.” 
Martin Berggren with the Östergötland police said that the accidents were concentrated around the city of Norrköping. 
“They started salting late in Norrköping, it seems,” he said. “It could remain slippery until the salt begins to work. We’ll see if it calms down now or if it continues.” 
Swedish forecaster SMHI on Sunday afternoon issued Class 1 weather warnings predicting heavy snowfall across the whole of Sweden’s central belt between Gothenburg and Stockholm, as the belt of snowy weather which hit southern Sweden on Saturday moved steadily north. 
It is now warning of a risk of flooding in the west Skåne around Malmö. In Staffanstorp, near Malmö, several cars had to be rescued on Sunday after being stranded by floodwaters, while the E6 road near Helsingborg was blocked by the rising waters. 
On Friday afternoon two cars collided near the city of Västerås, killing two men. There have been no reports of fatal accidents on Saturday. 
On Monday, SMHI expects temperatures to drop below zero across the country as a cold belt comes in from Siberia. 


Be wary of perilous Easter ice, Sweden warned

The beginning of spring means an increased risk of falling through surface ice on lakes and watercourses that are thawing.

Be wary of perilous Easter ice, Sweden warned
File photo: Tobias Röstlund / TT

With April a particularly dangerous month, Easter holidaymakers have been advised to take extra care.

“There are a lot of snowmobiles out there during Easter. It is the time of year when snowmobiles are used the most, especially in the mountains. Easter falls very late this year and that means the ice is much weaker,” said Per-Olov Wikberg, coordinator with Nationella snöskoterrådet (National Snowmobile Council).

According to Wikberg, the majority of snowmobile accidents happen around Easter. Of 70 deaths due to accidents involving the vehicle type in the last ten years, almost half were the result of drowning. Several other serious ice-related accidents have also occurred.

“The thing that is special about snowmobiles is that they are heavy and can travel very fast. You can quickly find yourself on bad ice without hearing or seeing the warning signs,” he said.

A survey carried out by the snowmobile council found that three out of ten people had experienced an accident caused by ice breaking or nearly breaking.

Only four out of ten said they had consulted somebody with local knowledge before heading out onto the ice.

Authorities therefore advise the public to always prioritise safety when deciding whether to go out on the vehicles or on the ice in general, particularly in unfamiliar areas.

“This year it’s nasty. The ice can crack very fast and this does not depend so much on the temperature, but on the fact the sun is high in the sky. That warms the inside of the ice,” said project manager Jan Insulander of ice safety advisory board Issäkerhetsrådet.

“Keep in mind that ice that was hard and cold in the morning can become slush that you can fall through later in the day,” he added.

The National Snowmobile Council believes that the public needs better – potentially life-saving – knowledge about ice and lakes.

“Everyone should have respect for the ice, because the ice can quickly become bad in the spring because of heat and sunshine,” Wikberg said.

READ ALSO: Five top tips for staying safe on the ice in Sweden