Climate change

Extreme cold grips Nordic countries as floods hit western Europe

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Europe experienced stark weather contrasts on Wednesday, with extreme cold and snowstorms disrupting transportation and closing schools in Scandinavia while strong winds and heavy rain in western Europe caused flooding and at least one death.

Temperatures fell below minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Nordic region for a second day in a row Wednesday.

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Kvikkjokk-Årrenjarka in Swedish Lapland, the mercury dropped to minus 43.6 C (minus 46.5 F), the lowest January temperature recorded in Sweden in 25 years, Sweden’s TT news agency reported.

Extremely cold temperatures, snow and gale-force winds disrupted transportation throughout the Nordic region, with several bridges closed and some train and ferry services suspended. Several schools in Scandinavia were closed.

Police across most of Denmark urged motorists to avoid unnecessary trips as wind and snow battered the northern and western parts of the country.

Western Russia has been swept by a wave of cold air coming from Siberia and the Arctic region, with temperatures in Moscow and other areas plummeting to minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Weather experts say western Russia is recording much colder temperatures than the average in early January when they typically hover around minus 10 degrees Celsius.

Officials in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other areas have issued orange weather warnings, cautioning residents against possible health risks.

Mild but wet and windy conditions prevailed further south, where a storm wreaked havoc in parts of western Europe.

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

The storm, which has been named Henk by the official weather services of Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands, has caused power cuts, transport troubles, property damage and disruption across the UK.

More than 300 flood warnings were in place across England and Wales on Wednesday, while 10,000 homes remained without power. A severe flood alert, meaning a danger to life, was announced for the River Nene in Northampton in central England. Several residents were evacuated from houseboats and caravans at the nearby Billing Aquadrome.

The UK’s rail network was hit by flooding and power cuts, with many operators reporting ongoing issues for the Wednesday morning commute into work.

The strongest gales in the UK were recorded on the Isle of Wight, just off the coast in southern England, where wind speeds reached 94 miles per hour (151 kilometers per hour).

In the Netherlands, police near the city of Eindhoven said strong winds may have played a role in the death of a 75-year-old man who fell off his bicycle late Tuesday as high winds lashed much of the country.

Also in the southern Netherlands, a small section of a dike that regulates water levels was washed away Wednesday afternoon, the country’s water authority said.

The water was flowing into the already swollen river Maas near the city of Maastricht. Owners of a number of houseboats were being evacuated as a precaution.

Parts of Germany were also grappling with flooding, which could be aggravated by more rain falling in the worst-affected northwestern state of Lower Saxony.

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