Europe’s punishing heatwave is heading for Sweden

The heatwave pummelling Southern Europe and Great Britain is moving north toward Sweden.

Europe’s punishing heatwave is heading for Sweden
Coming to Sweden? A woman walks with an umbrella to protect herself during a heatwave in Bordeaux on Monday. Photo: Romain Perrocheau/AFP

The heatwave is caused in part by jet streams separating cold air moving toward Europe from the north, and the warm air from southern Europe moving north,  Ulrica Sievert, from the Sweden’s meteorological agency (SMHI) told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. 

“The jet stream is running between Iceland and the British Isles and then further towards southern Norway and Sweden,” Sievert said. “This means that the jet stream is relatively northerly right now and it is holding the polar air to the north of Great Britain.”

The jet stream brings heatwaves to southern Europe, while northern Europe receives rain and and cooler summers.

Climate change is upsetting the balance of the polar jet stream, Matthew Osman, a researcher at the Climate Systems Center at the University of Arizona, told the Business Insider website last year. 

The warm air that has so far been restricted to southern Europe is moving further north now, towards Sweden, where temperatures are expected to hit highs of up to 35C on Wednesday. This heat is expected to be short-lived, with temperatures dropping again on Thursday.

While today is expected to be sunny and warm, tomorrow will be hot, meteorologist I. Dahlström wrote today on SMHI’s website. Expected temperatures range from 28C in parts of Skåne to 35C in Götaland, Svealand and southern Norrland. Friday will see the return of cooler air across the country, with rain also expected.

Swedish authorities recommend staying hydrated and adding more salt to food as a way to beat the heat and avoid dehydration. They also recommend avoiding physical work during the warmest part of the day, and suggest cold showers and loose clothes made from natural fibres as ways to keep cool.

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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.