Northern Europe faces widespread disruption as Storm Hans triggers heavy rains and strong winds

EU Flooding

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  • After the havoc wreaked by Storm Hans, authorities in Norway and other northern European countries have issued warnings for “extremely heavy rainfall,” exacerbating the already dire situation.
  • Storm Hans led to fatalities, extensive property damage, and widespread disruptions in countries including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia.
  • The aftermath of Storm Hans highlights the critical need for precautions and preparedness amidst the challenges posed by extreme weather events across multiple nations in northern Europe.

Norwegian authorities warned Tuesday to prepare for “extremely heavy rainfall” after Storm Hans caused two deaths, ripped off roofs and upended summertime life in northern Europe.

Strong winds continued to batter the region along with rains, causing a lengthy list of disruptions in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. Ferries were canceled, flights were delays, roads and streets were flooded, trees were uprooted, people were injured by falling branches and thousands remained without electricity Tuesday.

In Oslo, officials urged people to work from home. On its website, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate warned of “extremely heavy rainfall” in the country’s south, adding “unnecessary traffic should be avoided.”

“This is a very serious situation that can lead to extensive consequences and damages. There will be extensive flooding, erosion damage and flood damages to buildings and infrastructure,” it said in English on its website.

In Finland, authorities urged people to rethink whether it “it is necessary to go out” to sea, Ville Hukka, a spokesperson for the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District was quoted by the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper.

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SMHI, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, on Tuesday issued a red warning for parts of central Sweden, signaling “very large amounts of rain causing extremely high flows in streams and ditches in several places.”

Floods and slides closed dozens of roads in southern Norway and neighboring Sweden and dozens of people have been evacuated. Norwegian police said at least 119 people had been evacuated by Tuesday midday. There were scattered reports of helicopters being used to fly people out of affected areas.

Denmark’s Meteorological Institute, meanwhile, reported of waves of up to 26 feet and beach houses were seen washed into the North Sea.

On Monday, a 50-year old woman was killed in Lithuania by falling trees near the Latvian border. In central Sweden, a train was partly derailed because the embankment under the rails had been washed away. Three were people were slightly injured.

Also Monday in Latvia, near the Belarus border, a second person died on Monday when a tree fell on him, Latvian television said, adding he died of his injuries. The man was not further identified.

Norway Europe Weather

Røssholmvegen is closed to traffic after a stream overflowed, Reinsvoll on Toten, in the southeastern part of Norway, on Aug. 8, 2023. (Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB Scanpix via AP)

In Estonia, nearly 10,000 people were without power Tuesday morning, according to the Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency.

Norwegian authorities kept the extreme weather warning alert at its highest level in southern Norway due to heavy rain, mudslides and flash floods. They also sent out text messages in several foreign languages, including English, to holidaymakers warning of the foul weather.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre called it “a very serious situation,” said late Monday. “We see floods and destruction. There is reason to expect that this will last another day,” he said.

Meteorologists in Norway said rain can be expected over the country’s south until Wednesday.

“Plan for the fact that roads may be closed and that electricity, telephone and internet may be lost in parts of the county for periods,” Norwegian police said in a statement.

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In the Swedish town Are, a ski resort, roads and streets were flooded. The Susaback river that runs through Are, some 331 miles from Stockholm, went over its banks and flooded much of downtown.

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