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New weather warnings: Denmark braces for heavy rain and snow

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
New weather warnings: Denmark braces for heavy rain and snow
A photo from November 2023 showing a flooded road near Aarhus. Similar conditions could occur due to heavy rainfall forecast during the first week of January 2024. Photo: Helle Arensbak/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark is set to see heavy volumes of both rain and snow over the next two days, with severe weather alerts for both types issued by national meteorological agency DMI.

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Up to 45-60 millimetres of precipitation in the form of either rain or snow could fall in Denmark in the next 24 hours, DMI said in a post on social media site X on Tuesday afternoon.

To put that into context, the average rainfall for the whole of January for Denmark is 65mm, the agency stated.

The further north you go in the country, the more likely the downpours will take to the form of snow. That could be crucial for local conditions and the risk of flooding, according to DMI.

A blizzard weather alert covering North Jutland and northern parts of Central Jutland was issued by the agency on Tuesday. The alert is classed as category 2 or “hazardous” weather.

An alert for high risk of heavy rain – covering some of the same parts of Central Jutland, as well as the rest of the country to the south (including Baltic Sea island Bornholm) was issued late on Monday. That alert is at the lower “severe” level.

Heavy snow and rain alerts in effect for Denmark on January 2nd. Graphic: dmi.dk

When and where are rain alerts in place?

DMI’s rain alert is in effect from Tuesday evening until Thursday morning, with between 15-30mm of rain on average but up to 30-50mm forecast locally.

Hydrologist Jonas Wied Pedersen of DMI told national broadcaster DR that the situation was “tense”.

“It will not rain particularly intensely but it will rain for a long time,” he said.

The risk of flooding is high because water levels in drainage systems are already high after a record level of rainfall in late 2023.

“The earth is already saturated and we are certainly going to see local flooding in the coming days,” Pedersen said to DR.

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“Waterways will burst their banks and some roads will be flooded because meadows and fields cannot take more water, and detached housing with local low points could also have problems,” he said.

East Jutland is the area of the country particularly at risk from the rain, according to the DMI expert.

“If there really is over 50 millimetres of rain in East Jutland, you will see major problems with flooding,” Pedersen said.

The towns of Odder, Aarhus, Vejle, Kolding, the Djursland region and areas around the Gudenåen river, where water levels are already very high after rain between Christmas and New Year, are those most likely to be affected, he said.

What should I do if I live in an at-risk area?

If you live close to a river or other waterway in an affected area, check advice issued by the emergency services, DEMA (Danish Emergency Management Agency) locally, Pedersen advised.

Sewage systems should be able to cope due to the relatively low intensity of the rain, but blockages such as leaves and branches should be cleared from around drains on roads.

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What about the snow?

People in North Jutland will need to take heavy snow, rather than rain, into account during the incoming severe weather spell.

Snow is already falling in the region as of Tuesday afternoon, DR writes. A full day of snow is forecast in North Jutland on Wednesday.

While northern parts of Zealand could also get some snow, the severe weather alert only applies in Jutland.

Uncertainty around how far south the snow will reach is related to the path of the low-pressure weather front currently approaching Denmark.

A blizzard or snowstorm (snestorm) in Danish is defined as over 10 centimetres of snowfall in 6 hours, according to DMI. It also carries a risk of snow drifts developing because of low temperatures which freeze the snow, allowing it to be pushed by the wind rather than melting into sleet.

Category 2, the alert type issued for the snow forecast in North Jutland, is defined as weather which can “affect your surroundings and disrupt traffic and supplies”, DMI says on its website.

“Follow the advice of authorities and be extra careful when you're out and about,” the agency says with regard to category 2 alerts.

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