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The hunt for the last fan in Sweden: How the heatwave left Swedes sweating

Sweden's prolonged heatwave this summer has left locals scrambling for ways to keep cool, and led to unexpected consequences. The Local contributor Viktoriia Zhuhan went searching for the last electric fan in Sweden.

The hunt for the last fan in Sweden: How the heatwave left Swedes sweating
File photo of an electric fan. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

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The only electric fan you can find in Malmö’s Jula store is the one cooling down the client service desk. In chain Bauhaus, which is located in the nearby Svagerstorp area, the situation is the same. As Sweden is going through another “hottest summer day in history”, stores had long run out of fans and air conditioners and the next supply is not arriving anytime soon.

READ ALSO: Sweden experiences hottest July in 260 years

“Anyone knows ANYWHERE that still has fans in stock?” reads a desperate message in a Malmö expat Facebook group on July 25th. Emma Gould from Eslov, 30, checked out a dozen household appliances stores in Malmö and Lund. “Basically every place we went to said they had completely sold out,” she tells The Local in a message, and “most staff laughed when we asked as we were obviously not the first ones”.

The Local’s request about fans or air conditioning was the “59th since (the) morning,” according to the Bauhaus worker. He recommended calling the store shortly before visiting as any new supply gets sold immediately. German chain Mediamarkt still had a sign up reading “we are sold out of AC and fans” when The Local visited, but the staff showed several dozen boxes with floor fans that had just arrived. Their recommendation was similar: if you want to get it, buy it quick.

With good reason. A petrol station in Nättraby sold a fan for a four-digit price at an auction on July 30th, Expressen reported. According to the station owner, it was “the last fan in Sweden”.

Staff at Rusta, Electrolux, and Elgiganten in Malmö told The Local they were not getting any more new fans this season; at Jala, Bauhaus, and Mediamarkt the staff said they were receiving a small supply that will run out quickly. 

According to the press officers at Bauhaus and Elgiganten, sales this summer went up so much that the stores went out of stock across the country. Electrolux, which manufactures air conditioners, produced more this year for the Swedish market but they sold out at many of their retailers. 

“We are doing everything we can to provide more ACs to Sweden, but the lead time for production and transportation of the products is unfortunately long and it takes at least three months for the products to be back in stock,” wrote Arba Kokalari, Electrolux Group PR manager, in an email to The Local.

Justine Yuk Hua Chan from Malmö, 41, is not impressed with those explanations. She hasn’t seen fans run out of stock in six years in Sweden until now.

“The weather was already unusually warm into spring so you’d think the stores would capitalize on this and ensure the supply. I reckon people would be willing to pay to just grab a fan from the stores,” she wrote. Frustrated with the limited supply, Chan bought her fan through Amazon.

Sweden's national weather forecaster SMHI thinks differently, arguing the 2018 summer heatwave was not easy to predict. And early this spring, when cold weather embraced the whole country, nobody expected such a drastic turn to incredibly hot weather soon after.

READ ALSO: Tropical nights and lightning storms thunder through Sweden

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Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The climate crisis is causing serious problems for Italy's biggest cities and extreme weather events are going to become more frequent, according to a new report.

Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves
A file photo from November 12th, 2019 shows flooding during an exceptionally high 'acqua alta' in Venice.Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Anyone who was in Italy throughout this year’s long, hot summer may suspect that heatwaves are becoming a more frequent occurrence.

And residents of the lagoon city of Venice will no doubt be able to attest to the devastating impact of serious floods, as well as to the fact that such events appear to be becoming increasingly frequent.

In fact, a new study by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) has confirmed that the incidence rate of both heatwaves and floods in Italy has increased significantly – and is only expected to keep rising.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

The report stated that average temperatures have risen overall in the last 30 years and continue to rise in all cities.

“Risks associated with climate change affect all Italian regions and their economic sectors,” the study’s authors stated. “Despite contrasts, with different areas being affected in different ways, there are no regions that can be considered immune from climate risks.”

The report found that the southern city of Naples had experienced the biggest increase in the frequency and severity of heatwaves.

Heatwaves fuelled the most destructive fire season to date in Italy this summer Photo: Nicolas TUCAT/AFP

The southern city has in recent years reported an average of 50 more intensely hot days per year than it did at the beginning of the century.

The same figure for Milan was +30 days, Turin +29 and Rome +28. 

Although extreme weather events have always existed and Italy is no stranger to intense heat, numerous studies have found that the climate crisis is making heatwaves more frequent and more dangerous.

Meanwhile, in Venice, over the last 150 years the relative water level of the city has risen by more than 30 centimeters, and the critical threshold has been exceeded 40 times in the last 10 years, the CMCC found..

The report also warned that the city of Bologna could expect to see an increase in the intensity and frequency of flooding in the future.

READ ALSO: Floods in Italy: What to do when there’s a weather warning

It added that “all scenarios” showed an increased risk of heatwaves and urban flooding in the coming years.

In 2019, Rome was found to be the city in Europe most at risk of flooding, according to water monitoring authorities.

“There are parts of Rome that can’t withstand a heavy downpour,” said the Central Apennines District Basin Authority.

Rome’s soft soil and famous hills make it naturally vulnerable to erosion and mudslides, while the authority said poorly maintained sewers, waste dumping and vegetation blocking the course of the Tiber and Aniene rivers were contributing to the flood risk.

Previous studies have also found that Rome suffered the highest number of extreme weather events overall in recent years.