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WEATHER

Weather alert: ‘Extremely high risk’ of wildfires in parts of Sweden

Sweden’s weather agency warned of an “extreme” risk of forest fires in parts of the country, as helicopters were called in to water bomb a blaze south of Stockholm.

Weather alert: 'Extremely high risk' of wildfires in parts of Sweden
File photo of a firefighting helicopter. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

SMHI on Tuesday warned of a high or very high risk of forest fires in south-eastern Sweden, including areas such as Uppsala, Stockholm, Örebro, Norrköping, Jönköping, Karlskrona and Gotland. Locally, the agency described the risk as “extremely high”.

There’s also a high or very high risk of grass fires in parts of Norrland.

On Tuesday morning, firefighters used helicopters to drop water on a forest blaze between Hemfosa and Träsksjön in Haninge municipality south of Stockholm.

It was not known how the fire started. Fire crews were called out to fight it on Monday evening, and by noon on Tuesday most of it had been extinguished. No one was injured.

Fire bans are currently in place in large parts of the Blekinge, Kronoberg, Gotland, Västmanland, Stockholm and Uppsala regions.

The bans are issued by county administrative boards and the rules may vary, but a standard fire ban usually means that you are not allowed to light any fires, other than barbecues in your own garden or at a fixed grill site.

You can keep up to date with SMHI’s weather alerts here and fire bans here.

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WEATHER

IN PICTURES: ‘Exceptional’ Sahara dust cloud hits Europe

An "exceptional" dust cloud from the Sahara is choking parts of Europe, the continent's climate monitor said on Monday, causing poor air quality and coating windows and cars in grime.

IN PICTURES: 'Exceptional' Sahara dust cloud hits Europe

Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said the latest plume, the third of its kind in recent weeks, was bringing hazy conditions to southern Europe and would sweep northward as far as Scandinavia.

Mark Parrington, senior scientist at Copernicus, said the latest event was related to a weather pattern that has brought warmer weather to parts of Europe in recent days.

“While it is not unusual for Saharan dust plumes to reach Europe, there has been an increase in the intensity and frequency of such episodes in recent years, which could be potentially attributed to changes in atmospheric circulation patterns,” he said.

This latest episode has caused air quality to deteriorate in several countries, Copernicus said.

The European Union’s safe threshold for concentrations of PM10 — coarser particles like sand and dust that that can irritate the nose and throat — has already been exceeded in some locations.

A picture taken on April 8, 2024 shows a rapeseed field under thick sand dust blown in from the Sahara, giving the sky a yellowish appearance near Daillens, western Switzerland. – An “exceptional” dust cloud from the Sahara is choking parts of Europe, the continent’s climate monitor said, causing poor air quality and coating windows and cars in grime. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

The worst affected was the Iberian Peninsula in Spain but lesser air pollution spikes were also recorded in parts of Switzerland, France and Germany.

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Local authorities in southeastern and southern France announced that the air pollution threshold was breached on Saturday.

They advised residents to avoid intense physical activity, particularly those with heart or respiratory problems.

The dust outbreak was expected to reach Sweden, Finland and northwest Russia before ending on Tuesday with a shift in weather patterns, Copernicus said.

The Sahara emits between 60 and 200 million tonnes of fine dust every year, which can travel thousands of kilometres (miles), carried by winds and certain meteorological conditions.

The Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of northwest Africa saw just 12 days within a 90-day period from December to February where skies were free of Saharan dust, the local weather agency Aemet had reported.

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