Mortality increased by 700 during Sweden’s summer heatwave

Around 700 more people than usual died during the peak of Sweden’s record-breaking summer heat, the National Health Agency said on Thursday.

Mortality increased by 700 during Sweden's summer heatwave
Stockholmers take to the water in an attempt to escape the summer heat. File photo: Christine Olsson / TT
The agency cautioned however that those roughly 700 additional deaths cannot necessarily be directly attributed to the heat. Significant increases in mortality during the summer were only seen in the older age groups. 
The 700 additional deaths occurred during the period of June 18th through September 2nd, or weeks 25 through 35 to use the Swedish method of numbered weeks. 
The highest mortality rates were during the week of June 25 through July 1st and the period of July 16th through August 5th, according to the agency’s figures. 
The summer months also saw a marked increase in the number of vibriosis infections, caused by Vibrio bacteria that live in coastal waters. While an average summer brings around 20 cases of vibriosis, there were 131 this summer. 
“A probable explanation for the summer’s increase in vibriosis infections is that our bathing waters were unusually hot for an unusually long time,” epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in a National Health Agency press release
The summer of 2018 set numerous weather records in Sweden, beginning with the hottest May on record and the hottest June in 100 years. That was followed by one of the hottest months of July ever recorded in several places across the country, including Stockholm’s average temperature of 22.5C, which was the highest-ever average temperature in the country and several degrees above normal. That month also saw the outbreak of what was described as the “most serious” wildfire situation of modern times
Up until August 28th, when the weather started to cool down, the north had temperatures of 1-3C above normal and the south Sweden 2-4C. In most of southern and central Sweden, it was the warmest summer since records began, including in Uppsala (records began 1722), Stockholm (1756), Lund (1859) and Gothenburg (1860).
The National Health Agency said that survey results indicated that upwards of one-fourth of Sweden residents experienced some sort of heat-related health problem during the record-breaking summer but that a full 96 percent of survey respondents felt that they had been adequately informed on how to handle the heat wave. 

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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.