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Europe hit by extreme cold causing floods in Germany and power cuts in Nordic countries

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Thousands have been left without power in the Nordic countries as extreme cold hits the region and much of western Europe, causing floods in France, Germany and the Netherlands.


Thousands in the Nordic countries were left without power on Thursday as gusty winds and snow wreaked havoc in the region, leaving many drivers stuck in their cars on the hazardous, clogged highways.

Finland and Sweden recorded temperatures of below -40 degrees Celsius earlier this week, the coldest of the winter, forcing school closures and causing travel disruptions.

In Arctic Sweden, some 4,000 homes were left in the dark on Thursday as temperatures plunged to -38 degrees Celsius, according to Swedish public radio.

The day before, the mercury had dropped to -43.6 degrees Celsius, the lowest January temperature recorded in Sweden in 25 years.

The municipality of Enontekio in Finnish Lapland, near the border with Norway and Sweden, reported a record temperature of -42.5 degrees Celsius on Thursday.

Denmark and Norway, both battered by wind and snow, were also similarly affected. Hundreds of passengers aboard a ferry sailing between Oslo and Copenhagen finally arrived in the Danish capital after spending a night aboard the vessel which had been idling in the Øresund strait due to the storm.

The extreme cold that hit the Scandinavian region is part of a storm that has also impacted Western Europe. Heavy rains have led to floods in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, adding to the ongoing flooding in these regions over the past two weeks.

One death linked to the weather was reported in France. As of Thursday, several towns in northern France were underwater after several days of rain. Government officials are expected to visit the area today.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that he plans to make his second visit this week to inspect a dike and a sandbag-filling facility in the eastern town of Sangerhausen.

Residents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also felt the biting cold. 

The cold wave from Siberia and the Arctic region has also swept down over western Russia, with temperatures in Moscow and other areas plummeting to minus 30 degrees Celsius – well below the average temperature for early January.

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

Storms in England

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. 

The UK’s rail network was hit by flooding and power cuts, with many operators reporting ongoing issues for the Wednesday morning commute to 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 151 kilometres 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. 

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

In France, heavy rains have pummelled the northern Pas-de-Calais and Nord regions since Sunday, forcing the evacuation of about 200 people and knocking out power to 10,000 households, according to local authorities.

Hundreds of emergency workers from around France mobilised to rescue people from inundated homes and clear roads, and reinforcements of personnel and equipment came from Czechia, Slovakia, and the already-drenched Netherlands.

The national weather service maintained flood and wind warnings Thursday for several regions across northern France and its borders with Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, with more rains forecast along with winds up to 100 kph.


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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