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Party boat sinks in London as Europe grapples with deadly flooding in some countries, extreme cold in others

Parts of Europe are experiencing an extreme start to the new year’s weather. As some countries struggle with devastating floods, others have been plunged into extreme cold, causing chaos.

Hundreds of flood warnings are in place in the UK after heavy rainfall battered swaths of the country Thursday.

In the east of the capital, around 70 firefighters were mobilized to deal with flooding after a canal broke its banks Thursday evening.

Elsewhere in the UK, a major incident was declared in the Nottinghamshire region due to rising river levels along the River Trent, with local authorities warning river levels could come close to record highs.

Thursday’s heavy rainfall came on the heels of Storm Henk, which swept southern parts of the country earlier this week, bringing strong winds and rain.

The storm claimed at least one life after a man died Tuesday when a tree fell onto the car he was driving in Gloucestershire, southwest England, according to local police.

The same storm also brought intense flooding to northern parts of France, leaving hundreds without power, forcing more than 370 evacuations and causing one death.

The Pas-de-Calais department of northern France was under “red alert” for flooding on Thursday, according to the country’s national weather service Météo France, but was moved to orange alert, the next level down, Friday.

Local authorities warned people in affected areas not to go into their basements, to avoid travel and stay away from waterways.

Germany, too, has been badly affected in regions that have seen persistent flooding over the past two weeks.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited a heavily affected flood zone in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt Thursday.

Around 200 soldiers will start their deployment Friday in Mansfeld-Südharz, a district in the state, where they will distribute 600,000 sandbags, according to a spokesperson for the country’s armed forces.

The full extent of flood damage in Germany is not yet clear but more rain is expected Friday, according to Helge Tuschy from Germany’s Weather Service.

Many of the same parts of northwestern Europe that have been flooded this month were also battered by Storm Ciarán, which brought hurricane-strength winds and claimed several lives in November.

Climate change, driven primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, is causing extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall, to become more frequent and more intense.

As the Earth’s atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more water vapor — so when it rains, it rains much more intensely, increasing the likelihood of destructive flooding.

Last year was the hottest on record globally.

Arctic blast

It’s a tale of different extremes in Europe this week, as heavy rainfall and milder temperatures in some parts contrast starkly with an intense cold snap further north.

An Arctic blast has brought some record-low temperatures to parts of Scandinavia including northern Sweden and Finland along with heavy snow, causing chaos on the roads.

Kvikkjokk-Årrenjarka, in northern Sweden, recorded -43.6 degrees Celsius (-46.4 Fahrenheit) Wednesday, the lowest temperature in that location since records began in 1887, said Sverker Hellström, a meteorologist at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.

On Thursday, rescue services evacuated hundreds of people who had been trapped overnight in their cars due to heavy snow, according to a Reuters report.

In the far northwest of Finland, temperatures in the municipality of Enontekiö dropped to -42.4 degrees Celsius (-44.3 Fahrenheit), marking country’s lowest temperature for 18 years.

A woman was found dead Tuesday after going skiing in a blizzard in northern Finland with her child, whose body was found Thursday, according to Reuters.

Scandinavia has been grappling with biting cold since December. Norway’s average temperature in December was 2.3 degrees below average, with Sweden and Finland seeing temperatures as low as 6 degrees below average across certain regions.

Temperatures in the region are predicted to remain well below average through Friday and the weekend before returning to closer to average next week.

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