Strong winds across Sweden cause traffic chaos

Many areas of Sweden are reporting strong winds, which have led to cancelled train services as well as traffic accidents.

Strong winds across Sweden cause traffic chaos
Strong winds have blown over trees in Skåne, causing a traffic accident in Kristianstad municipality. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Strong winds across Sweden on Thursday night and Friday morning have caused cancellations and delays in train services, TT reports.

The train company Vy has cancelled all services between Kiruna-Narvik, as well as Östersund-Storlien until Friday morning. SJ has also cancelled services west of Östersund.

In southern Sweden, Trafikverket has cancelled services on many routes due to strong winds. These include services between Nässjö-Vetlanda, Ystad-Simrishamn and Kristianstad-Karlskrona starting at 4am on Friday morning.

Train services are expected to start up again at noon on Friday for some services, with others recommencing at 4am on Saturday.

P4 Väst reports that in western Sweden, services are not running between Uddevalla and Borås, as well as on the Bohus line. Ferry traffic is also affected.

Strong winds have also blown a number of trees down in Skåne, one of which has caused a traffic accident in Kristianstad municipality. A tree was blown over on to the road, where three people stopped to saw it into pieces and were hit by a car driving into the tree, police reports state. They have now been taken to hospital by ambulance.

In Gotland, the wind caused multiple power cuts on Thursday night and early on Friday morning, local media reports. At one point, 3,000 households had no power. 4,600 households had no power for just over an hour on Thursday night.

The winds currently affecting Sweden are part of the same storms which have been causing flooding, traffic problems and school closures in northern Sweden over the past few days.

“Even though it’s most windy in the mountains, there will also be difficult weather on lower terrain, and it looks like this will continue throughout Friday,” Alexandra Ohlsson, a meteorologist at SMHI, told newswire TT.

“There will also be extremely strong gusts of wind in some areas, like Skåne,” she continued.

The weather should be calmer on Saturday, Ohlsson says: “What we’re seeing now is the end of the bad weather. The wind is going to culminate in the south. Snowfall will decrease during the afternoon and evening, and Saturday will be much calmer.”

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EXPLAINED: What’s behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

Travellers are reporting queues over an hour long at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. What's going on and how long is it expected to last?

EXPLAINED: What's behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

What’s the situation at Stockholm Arlanda airport? 

On Friday morning, there were queues lasting over an hour at Arlanda’s security controls. By 10am, they had been reduced to below half an hour, according to the live update the airport operator, Swedavia, maintains on its website here

Swedavia first began warning of long queue times on Monday, saying the queues were the result of a resurgence in travel combined with staffing shortages at Avarn, the contractor responsible for managing the security checks. 

“The wait times are due to a staff shortage with our security services contractor – which is caused by ongoing recruitment and absences due to illness,” the airport said on its website

What are travellers saying? 

Twitter is predictably awash with angry comments from travellers, including some well-known commentators. 

The terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp resorted to capital letters to bemoan the “CATASTROPHE” at the airport. 

The Financial Times’ Nordic Correspondent also compared the situation at Arlanda unfavourably with the smooth controls at Helsinki Airport

“Never seen anything like it and sounds like might be worse today. In Terminal 5 both queues, SAS and Norwegian, were well over 100 metres long,” he told The Local. “It took me 50 minutes to get through security. Don’t think it’s ever taken more than 10 in the Nordics before.” 

What should you do if you are travelling through Stockholm Arlanda at the moment? 

Swedavia recommends that you arrive “well in advance” when taking a flight. You can contact your airline here to find out when their check-ins and baggage drops open.  

Swedavia also recommends that you do everything possible to speed up the check-in process, such as:

  • checking in from home
  • packing hand baggage to make screening faster
  • checking the need for a face covering in advance
  • checking that you have the right travel documents ready 

If you can’t check in from home, Swedavia recommends seeing if you can check in using an automated machine at the airport.

What is the airport doing to to improve the situation? 

On June 15th, the airport is reopening Terminal 4, which might help somewhat, although the airport warns that as staffing is the major problem, having more space will not fully solve the problem over the summer. 

In a press release issued on Friday, Svedavia’s chief operations officer, Peder Grunditz, said opening a new terminal was “an important measure”. 

“We are now going to have the three biggest terminals back in operation for the first time since the pandemic,” he said. 

The company and Avarn are also making “big recruitment efforts” and taking “operational measures” to improve the queue situation, although the “challenging labour market” made that difficult. 

When will waiting times return to normal? 

In his press release, Grunditz conceded that waiting times were not likely to return to normal during the summer, due to the rapid growth in the number of people taking flights. 

“Even though we expect gradual improvements, the queuing situation is going to continue to be challenging during periods over the summer,” he said.