Arctic Blast Sends Temperatures Plunging Below -40°C in Sweden and Finland
An extreme cold snap has brought frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall across Scandinavia, breaking decades-old records. Parts of Sweden plunged below -40°C, the coldest levels recorded there in over 25 years. Temperatures as low as -43.8°C were measured in the village of Kvikkjokk, the coldest January night since 2001.
Neighboring Finland also saw temperatures drop to -40°C and below. The township of Kittilä dipped to -40.2°C, colder than parts of Lapland inside the Arctic Circle. Denmark and Norway have also faced an onslaught of freezing weather.
The extreme cold is attributed to a polar vortex splitting the stratosphere and allowing an Arctic blast to penetrate further south across Europe. Climate scientists say more frequent occurrences of a unstable polar vortex may be linked to climate change and rapid warming in the Arctic.
Swaths of Sweden and Denmark Paralyzed by Heavy Snow
On top of the extreme cold, heavy snowfall has wreaked havoc across Sweden and Denmark. Up to 30-50 cm of snow accumulated in parts of southern Sweden, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded overnight. Near Malmö, over 1,000 vehicles were stuck on the E6 highway for up to 18 hours.
With high winds creating blizzard conditions, Swedish authorities declared a Class 2 warning for hazardous weather. Similar amounts of snow fell in Denmark, where police had to close bridges due to whiteout conditions. The storm caused widespread traffic disruptions, flight cancellations, and power outages across Scandinavia.
Thousands Without Power as Infrastructure Overwhelmed
The wintry weather has overwhelmed infrastructure and power grids across the Nordics. In Sweden alone, over 30,000 households were left without electricity. Neighboring Finland and Norway also saw thousands of outages from falling trees and lines downed by heavy snow and winds.
Repair crews have struggled to restore power with roadblocks hampering access. “We have extreme conditions with heavy snowfall, snowdrifts and a harsh wind,” said a spokesperson for Sweden’s electricity network operator.
Germany Faces Renewed Flooding as Rivers Overflow
While Scandinavia battles extreme cold and snowstorms, parts of Germany and other countries in Western Europe are dealing with extensive flooding for the third time in nine months. Swollen rivers have burst their banks following days of torrential rainfall, inundating towns and forcing thousands of evacuations.
The Moselle River reaching critical levels not seen since 1993. In Saxony, the Mulde River rose to a 500-year high, submerging bridges and sections of a major highway. The Rhine also overflowed, with its tributaries swallowing medieval castles and vineyards in wine-growing regions.
Experts say the repeated bouts of flooding demonstrate how climate change is amplifying extreme weather events. Rising global temperatures bring about heavier rainfall as warmer air holds more moisture. Deforestation in floodplain areas has also reduced the ground’s capacity to absorb excess water.
|Type of Extreme Weather
|Primary Location(s) Affected
|Extreme Cold and Heavy Snowfall
|Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway
|Temperatures below -40°C; Widespread power outages; Stranded motorists; Travel disruptions
|Germany, France, Netherlands
|Swollen rivers overflowing banks; Thousands evacuated; Infrastructure damage
Continued Volatile Weather Expected
Both the extreme wintry weather and flooding are forecasted to continue, according to meteorologists. Another blast of freezing air could send temperatures plunging again next week. “A new Arctic outbreak is expected at the end of the weekend and could last more than seven days,” warned Sweden’s meteorological agency.
Moist airflow from the Atlantic Ocean is likely to keep fueling bouts of heavy rainfall over Western Europe. With soil moisture levels already high, even normal amounts of precipitation could trigger additional flooding.
Officials urge those in affected areas to exercise caution when venturing outside and avoid non-essential travel. Residents near overflowing rivers should prepare evacuation plans.
With climate models projecting further increases in weather extremes, communities must adapt infrastructure to withstand volatile swings between droughts and floods, freezing and thaws. Expanding renewable energy can also reinforce strained power grids vulnerable to disruptions. Only by taking concerted climate action can societies build resilience against the growing onslaught of weather catastrophes.
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