helsinki finland
© Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva via APA man walks on the frozen sea in southern Helsinki, Finland, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.
The extremely cold weather caused disruptions in transportation in Finland, Sweden and Norway, where snow made rail traffic difficult and ferry lines were suspended.

Thermometres in Finland and Sweden plunged to lower than -40 degrees Celsius in some places on Tuesday and Wednesday, as the two Scandinavian countries reported the coldest temperatures of this winter so far.

In the village of Nikkaluokta in northern Sweden, which is inhabited by indigenous Sami people, temperatures reached -41.6 degrees Celsius early on Tuesday, according to Swedish broadcaster SVT.

"It's the coldest temperature we have had so far this winter, and it will continue to be quite cold in the north," SVT meteorologist Nils Holmqvist said.

In Kvikkjokk-Årrenjarka, in Swedish Lapland, the temperature dropped to -43.6 degrees Celsius on Wednesday - the lowest January temperature recorded in Sweden in 25 years, according to Sweden's TT news agency.

The freezing temperatures followed a warmer-than-average autumn in much of Europe, which came in the context of 2023 being reported as the warmest year on record. This is widely considered to be linked to global warming and climate change, as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are currently at their highest levels for at least 2 million years.

The cold spell which Finland and Sweden are currently under has caused disruptions in travel, including in Norway, where a major highway in the south was closed due to the weather and ferry lines suspended operations.

In Sweden, train operators said rail traffic in the Arctic north also suffered significant problems. Central and southern Sweden will remain under a winter weather alert throughout Wednesday, as authorities warned against snow and wind.

In Finland, authorities warn that temperatures will be lower than -40 degrees Celsius through the week. Police in Denmark urged drivers to avoid unnecessary trips as wind and snow are likely to make travel hazardous in the northern and western parts of the country.

Several schools in Scandinavia were closed on Wednesday, while some train and ferry services were suspended.

Storm Henk in the UK and the Netherlands

While the Nordic countries reported these extremely cold temperatures, western Europe was battered by strong winds and heavy rain.

In the UK, which was hit by a storm named 'Henk' by authorities, a driver died after a tree fell on his car. Gloucestershire Police said the man died in the incident near the town of Kemble on Tuesday afternoon.

The storm has caused widespread disruption across the UK, including power cuts, property damage, transport delays and suspensions. More than 300 flood warnings were in place across England and Wales on Wednesday, while 10,000 homes remained without power.

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.