Dry weather means ‘extreme risk’ of forest fire in Sweden: agency

Many parts of Sweden are currently at “extreme risk” of forest fire outbreaks, with bans on starting fires in several areas.

Dry weather means 'extreme risk' of forest fire in Sweden: agency
File photo: Freddie Larsen / NTB scanpix / TT

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has issued an official warning and rain is not forecast in the near future, according to meteorological institute SMHI.

Several forest fires are reported to have broken out during the last week in a number of different parts of the country, and SMHI considers 29 districts to currently be at risk.

A ban on starting fires is in place in areas including Stockholm, Uppsala, Gothenburg, Malmö, Gävleborg and Örebro.

MSB issued a warning on Friday due to the serious nature of the situation.

“There has been a number of fires in several areas but, so far, emergency services have control of the situation. But it is exceptionally dry at the moment and we are concerned that a fire could break out which we would find hard to control,” MSB head of department Jan Wisén told TT.

More dry weather is forecast for next week, according to SMHI meteorologist Jon Jörpeland.

Although southern Götaland may see localised showers and thunder during the weekend, it is difficult to say how much rain would fall, Jörpeland said.

“There could be quite heavy rain locally, but the dry weather will generally continue,” he said.

Many parts of Sweden have not seen rainfall since May 11th.

“Dry weather without rain is expected during the next week. So it will certainly be dry for the rest of May,” Jörpeland added.

Regardless of whether a ban is in place, MSB advises against open fires, barbecues, smoking and certain types of machinery in forest areas.

“In this situation, you should not use agricultural or forestry machines that risk giving off sparks. That is what started the fire in Västmanland County in 2014, when the weather conditions were similar to what we have now,” Wisén said.

“If you notice a fire it is extremely important to raise an alarm as quickly as possible. Forest fires in weather like this spread very quickly so it is incredibly important [for emergency services] to respond rapidly,” he said.

READ ALSO: Sweden lights forest fire the size of 520 football pitches

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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.