Swedish road deaths plunge to record low

The wintry weather in Sweden has led to a record low number of road deaths, new figures from the Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) show.

During January and February accidents on Sweden’s roads claimed 32 lives, with only seven in February.

“This is the first time since the 1920s that we have seen a single figure for the number of fatalities in a month,” said Lena Erixon, director-general at the administration, to news agency TT.

Large piles of snow at the sides of the roads, and lower speeds on roads with wintry conditions, are some of the reasons given for the low fatality rate. The winter has also meant that fewer two-wheeled vehicles, and their unprotected riders, have been on the roads.

Over the past five years the number of deaths in traffic during January and February has averaged 57. Last year the figure was 42.

Despite its advantages, the snow has caused problems for the Road Administration’s budget. Snow clearance during the first two months of 2010 has meant that the operating budget will be exceeded by 170 million kronor ($24 million), presuming that the weather for the rest of the year is normal.

“This means that we will have to spend less money on asphalting roads than previously planned. But on the other hand, we were able to spend more on that last year as the winter was milder than normal,” said Lena Erixon.

“We adjust these expenditures over the years,” she said.

One uncertain factor with regard to the authority’s costs for the severe winter is the frost damage to roads. Frost has impacted even the far south of Sweden this year, which is unusual.

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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.