Close night, record cold, endless snow and holding onto a steering wheel on a highway for hours, which must seem much longer than the conventional 60 minutes. “I’ve been waiting for almost 13 hours,” Petra Bentz said with frozen calm in the early hours of Thursday from the E22, one of the main roads in southern Sweden, in a video published on the social network X, the old Twitter.

Petra still did not know that the emergency services would still take almost twice as long to rescue the drivers trapped on that highway next to her with military vehicles. Also in bringing them water and food, after the eternal wait. There were truckers, of course, who preferred not to abandon their trailers with their loads and stayed on the highway.

No less than a thousand cars in a row, trapped for an entire day, were responsible for joining the Swedish cities of Kristianstad and Hörby (which have a total of about 50,000 inhabitants), separated only by just over 40 kilometers. The authorities plan to reopen the road this Friday, if the adverse weather conditions allow it.

The cold wave coming from the Arctic region and Siberia is literally freezing Scandinavia, with a special impact on Sweden and Denmark, but with Finland following the sub-zero temperatures very closely. Several regions exceeded -40 degrees Celsius. The Swedish Kvikkjokk-Årrenjarka, in this country’s Lapland, recorded the country’s January record in the last 25 years, according to the local news agency TT: a chilling 43.6 degrees below zero.

Extremely cold temperatures, snow and gale-force winds disrupted transport across the Nordic region, with several bridges closed and train and ferry services suspended. Many schools, which had already resumed the course after the Christmas holidays, closed their doors yesterday. Some 4,000 homes in Arctic Sweden were left without electricity, according to public radio.

In Finland, in its area of ​​Lapland, a snow avalanche killed a mother and her 12-year-old son, who were enjoying a day of skiing. Police said the boy’s body was found in Pyhäkuru in the north on Thursday morning, near the place where his mother was found two days earlier.

“The sequence of events following the emergency call is hardly clear, but very bad weather conditions combined with an avalanche appear to have caused this sad and unusual accident,” said Police Commissioner Kirsi Huhtamäki, according to The Guardian newspaper. .

Danish police urged motorists to avoid unnecessary travel as wind and snow hit northern and western Denmark. In Norway, forecasters said some parts of the country would reach the coldest temperatures in a decade. The Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) recalled that electric cars can lose up to 36% of their autonomy in these sub-zero temperatures.

The cold wave has also spread across western Russia, and temperatures in Moscow have dropped to -30ºC, well below the average for early January. Authorities in Moscow and St. Petersburg have issued orange weather warnings, warning residents of risks in carrying out daily activities.

Meanwhile, in Western Europe, torrential rains caused flooding with at least one death in the United Kingdom, in the west of England. It was a driver who died on Tuesday when a tree fell on his car. The strongest gales were recorded on the Isle of Wight, off the coast of southern England, where wind speeds reached 151 km. per hour.

In the Netherlands, police in Eindhoven reported that strong winds may have been responsible for the death of a 75-year-old man, who fell from his bicycle on Tuesday night. Additionally, a section of a dam that regulates water levels was washed away. The water flowed into the swollen Maas River near Maastricht. The owners of several houseboats had to be evacuated.

In France, the rains have not stopped hitting the northern areas of Pas-de-Calais and Nord since last Sunday, so around 200 people had to be evacuated and more than 10,000 houses were left without electricity supply. The roads in the town of Blendecques, in Pas-de-Calais, turned into rivers. The French meteorological service yesterday maintained alerts for floods and winds in several regions in the north of the country and on its borders with Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.