Icebreakers do battle with Swedish waters

All but one of Sweden's icebreakers have been called into action as half of the Gulf of Bothnia separating Sweden and Finland freezes over.

Icebreakers do battle with Swedish waters

With meteorological agency SMHI forecasting more cold weather for the coming weeks, the big freeze seems set to stay.

Even Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund, waterways off the west and south-west coasts that are generally spared the ice treatment, risk freezing over as the cold snap continues.

“At the moment it’s so gusty that new ice hardly has time to settle. But the waters have really cooled down, so if the wind eases off it could happen quickly,” said Johny Lindvall, deputy head of shipping at the Swedish Maritime Administration (Sjöfartsverket).

Six of the agency’s seven icebreakers have already been put to work, with the seventh, Ymer, ready for action at the end of the week. One of the icebreakers, Ale, is currently assisting in the northern Kvarken area in the Gulf of Bothnia but may be redirected to Lake Vänern should the need arise.

The last time the Gulf iced over so far south was in 2006 when the freeze stretched as far as Oskarshamn and the Swedes enlisted the help of their Danish neighbours, whose icebreakers had remained quayside for the previous fifteen years.

“We leased their icebreaker Danbjörn,” said Johnny Lindvall.

“They were very enthusiastic. We called on a Friday and the Danbjörn arrived at Oskarshamn on the Tuesday. The only thing was that none of those on board had ever been out in the ice before, not even the captain. So we had to put an old icebreaker captain on board as supervisor. But then everything went fine,” he added.

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Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Thanks to the weather front ‘Peggy’, which is moving west over Germany, the Bundesrepublik is seeing storms strike and saying goodbye to summer weather.

Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Rain and strong gusts of winds were expected throughout Germany on Thursday, with the western part of the country to see the heaviest downpour, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

The wet weather will intensify in the afternoon, moving north to Berlin and Hamburg.

The mercury was set to stretch between 17C and 25C throughout the country, according to DWD, with northern areas experiencing the coolest temperatures.

‘Long-awaited rainfall’

The storms were welcomed in drought-hit parts of western Germany, which has seen record heat over the past few years. 

“Peggy is a heroine. She is bringing long-awaited rainfall in the dry west,” wrote DWD in its weather report Thursday. 

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts, and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

Yet they also pose a risk for flooding, particularly in parts of northwestern Germany, where between 30 and 50 liters of water per square meter were predicted to fall throughout the day.

“Even if the rain is certainly more of a blessing than a curse for many, these amounts also carry the risk of flooding streets or filling up cellars,” wrote DWD.

Rain will continue around the country on Friday. In the east and southeast, the sun is expected to shine again by the late afternoon, with the mercury reaching around 21C. 

Storms stretch into weekend

Saturday will likely be the coldest day of the week with highs of only 17C in some places, particularly along the coasts. Yet eastern regions will see the mercury rise between 18C and 22C.

The DWD advised to “keep an umbrella around as a faithful companion” as the wet weather continues.

On Sunday, stormy weather will slowly calm down and the showers will retreat to the southeast parts of the country. The mercury is set to hover around a nationwide average of 22C and 23C.