January 4, 2024 – Northwestern Europe faced challenges on Wednesday as the latest Atlantic storm, part of a recurring series, unleashed rain and snow on already saturated ground. Meanwhile, extreme cold gripped northern Scandinavia.
In the Pas de Calais department of northern France, rescue teams assisted in evacuating residents from flooded homes in the town of Arques, which had experienced its second flood in two months due to heavy rainfall. The region braced for an additional 20-40 millimeters (0.85-1.7 inches) of rain, with a red alert signaling the imminent risk of the river Aa overflowing.
Residents, grappling with the repeated deluge, expressed frustration and concern about the future. “The first time, you think it’s luck, but the second time, it starts to hit your morale and your wallet,” remarked Arques resident Anthony Richevin during the evacuation.
In northern Scandinavia, particularly in Norway and Denmark, the storm disrupted transportation. A ferry traveling from Norway to Denmark, carrying approximately 900 passengers, was unable to dock in Copenhagen due to the storm, and the wait for improved weather conditions extended into Thursday morning.
In Kristiansand, Norway, heavy snowfall prompted the closure of schools and the cancellation of public buses. The storm, named Henk, caused chaos in England and Wales, leading to power outages, train disruptions, and the closure of major roads due to flooding. Tragically, fallen trees claimed the life of a motorist in southwestern England.
Belgium reported a casualty as a 59-year-old woman lost her life in East Flanders province after being struck by a blown-away fence during a period of heavy rainfall.
As the storm battered Europe, the Arctic village of Kvikkjokk in Sweden recorded a bone-chilling overnight temperature of -43.6 Celsius (-46.5 Fahrenheit), marking the coldest January night in 25 years.
In Lapland, northern Finland, a woman went missing during a blizzard while skiing on Tuesday, and tragically, she was found dead in an avalanche. A search continued on Wednesday for her child, according to Finnish police.