Sweden is reeling after a severe snowstorm left hundreds stranded on highways, knocked out power for thousands, and brought record-shattering cold across the region.
Hundreds Stranded as Storm Snarls Traffic
Over the weekend, a massive winter storm pounded southern Sweden with heavy snowfall and gusty winds. Up to 30 inches of snow fell in some areas, trapping hundreds of motorists along highways and smaller roads.
As reported by UP News, over 500 vehicles were stuck on the E4 highway in Sweden for nearly 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday. Some drivers and passengers were forced to spend the night in their cars in frigid conditions as plows struggled to clear the road.
Rescue crews used snowmobiles to deliver food and blankets to those trapped. Tow trucks eventually freed vehicles one by one, but the arduous rescue effort took all day Sunday.
Similar scenes played out on smaller roads, with up to 1,000 cars left stranded across southern Sweden. Road closures and traffic accidents were widespread as plowing attempts failed to keep pace with the nonstop snow.
Deep Freeze Shatters Cold Records
As if the snow wasn’t bad enough, the storm also brought brutally cold Arctic air into Sweden and other Nordic countries. Temperatures plunged to 40 below zero Fahrenheit in northern Sweden early this week – that’s also minus 40 degrees Celsius.
The extreme cold also knocked out power across Sweden and neighboring countries. Tens of thousands lost electricity as freezing temperatures strained energy infrastructure.
What’s Causing the Arctic Blast?
Meteorologists attribute the recent extreme winter weather to a split in the polar vortex – a large low-pressure area of cold air swirling above the North Pole. When the vortex is strong, cold air stays bottled up in the Arctic. But when the vortex weakens, frigid air can plunge deep into Europe and other mid-latitude regions.
Some scientists believe climate change is causing more frequent polar vortex disruptions as the Arctic warms rapidly. Research shows Arctic amplification – above average warming in polar regions – may be contributing to a wavier jet stream that allows cold snaps to reach lower latitudes. The ongoing extreme weather may be linked to these complex climate processes.
What to Expect Next
While plow crews continue working nonstop, Swedish officials warn that road travel may remain severely limited in the days ahead. Bitterly cold temperatures are forecast to persist, causing refreezing and complicating snow removal efforts.
However, meteorologists expect the polar vortex to strengthen again soon, ending the extreme cold snap. Milder air should return by next week, bringing relief from this record-setting winter weather crisis.
|-4°F / -20°C
|-31°F / -35°C
|Partly Sunny, Light Snow
|14°F / -10°C
|5°F / -15°C
|23°F / -5°C
|10°F / -12°C
The dangerous winter weather caused at least five deaths across Europe and Scandinavia. Officials implemented public emergency measures to assist vulnerable populations impacted by power outages and travel disruptions.
While Sweden endures the aftermath, experts say freak polar vortex disruptions may become more common due to Arctic amplification. Morefrequent and intense winter storms could continue threatening Northern countries in the years ahead as the climate shifts dramatically.
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