Extreme cold temperatures not seen for decades in Scandinavia cause widespread disruption

Temperatures plunge to below -40C in Nordic region with most parts blanketed in heavy snow

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 04 January 2024 07:26 GMT
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Drone footage captures flooding in Gloucestershire town as fields submerged by water

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A large part of Europe has been swept by a wintry blast of snowstorms and freezing temperatures, with heavy rain and strong winds exacerbating harsh living conditions in the western regions.

The weather conditions have left three people dead in Britain and Netherlands and caused widespread disruption in transport services, power outages, and school closures.

Temperatures plunged to -40C in the Nordic region for a second day in a row on Wednesday while Finland and Sweden recorded their coldest temperatures of the winter.

Mercury dropped to -43.6C in Kvikkjokk-Årrenjarka in Swedish Lapland – the lowest temperature recorded in January in Sweden in 25 years, Sweden’s TT news agency reported.

“It’s the coldest temperature we have had so far this winter, and it will continue to be quite cold weather in the north,” Swedish meteorologist Nils Holmqvist said.

Extremely heavy snowfall, gale-force winds, and sub-zero temperatures disrupted transport services across the Nordic regions with several bridges closed and some train and ferry services suspended for hundreds of people.

Several schools have been closed in the Scandinavian region as Norway and Denmark were blanketed in snow and authorities urged people to avoid unnecessary travel.

Police across Denmark have urged the public to avoid the roads as snow battered the northern and western parts of the country.

An aerial view taken on January 3, 2024 shows snow and ice in the Töölö area with the Temppeliaukio Church (front C) and Lapinlahti Bay in the Finnish capital Helsinki
An aerial view taken on January 3, 2024 shows snow and ice in the Töölö area with the Temppeliaukio Church (front C) and Lapinlahti Bay in the Finnish capital Helsinki (AFP via Getty Images)

Windy and wet weather conditions struck farther south where a storm named Henk wreaked havoc in western Europe and two people died.

In Britain, a driver died after a tree fell on his car in western England and another man died near the town of Kemble on Tuesday afternoon, Gloucestershire police said.

Storm Henk has ripped through parts of the UK with near-100mph winds and flash floods, leaving commuters stranded and some damage to houses.

A jogger runs past a sculpture resembling a heart during snowfall in Stockholm, Sweden
A jogger runs past a sculpture resembling a heart during snowfall in Stockholm, Sweden (TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Ima)

There were more than 300 floods across England and Wales on Wednesday with 10,000 homes without power.

A 75-year-old man died in Eindhoven, Netherlands, after he fell off his bicycle on Tuesday as a snowstorm lashed much of the country. Police believe that the snowstorm may have played a role in his accident and subsequent death.

A truck is being removed from the snowy street following an accident during heavy snowfall in Viborg, central Jutland, Denmark
A truck is being removed from the snowy street following an accident during heavy snowfall in Viborg, central Jutland, Denmark (Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima)

The national water authority reported that a portion of a dyke responsible for controlling water levels was washed away on Wednesday afternoon. The water started streaming into the already swollen Maas River near the city of Maastricht. As a precautionary measure, owners of several houseboats were undergoing evacuation.

In France, more than 200 people were evacuated and 10,000 houses were without power after heavy rains lashed the northern Pas-de-Calais and Nord regions since Sunday.

A person rides their bicycle as a blizzard hits the morning traffic in Aalborg, Denmark
A person rides their bicycle as a blizzard hits the morning traffic in Aalborg, Denmark (EPA)

In the town of Blendecques, streets transformed into water passages, prompting authorities to caution residents in flood-alert zones on Wednesday to limit their movements until water levels recede.

Hundreds of emergency workers from France worked to clear roads and pump out water from the worst-hit towns.

Flood and wind warnings remained in place on Thursday for several regions across northern France and its borders with Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. More rains are expected to hit the areas with wind up to 100kph.

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