We experienced what can only be described as the mother of all thunderstorms here in Copenhagen last Saturday with almost 19,000 lightening strikes and over 150mm (6 inches) of rain within three hours.
Train stations, highways, even the famed Tivoli amusement park suffered heavy damage, not to mention the thousands of flooded basements. Early estimates peg the damages in excess of 100 million DKK ($18.5M) although I suspect that number will rise.
Not suprisingly, the high winds and lightening knocked out power across much of the city, including many traffic lights. The lights at the intersection of H.C. Anderson Boulevard/Vesterbrogade (the busiest intersection in the city) were out most of Sunday and Trianglen (a major intersection in Østerbro) was out well into Monday.
What was most fascinating was not only that there were no police directing traffic but that traffic continued to function incredibly smoothly! Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike took their time and it was fascinating to watch the order which arose from the chaos of the previous night. A crowd of pedestrians would swell as a line of cars passed through the intersection before it finally reached a critical mass and invaded the intersection. When this occured, cars and cyclists calmly came to a stop to await their turn. In any other city, the situation would have decayed into chaos but not in calm, orderly Copenhagen.
The following is a picture I took at Trianglen on Sunday afternoon but it was much the same even during rush hour Monday morning. If you look carefully, you can see one lone pedestrian light is still functioning! Why Danes feel the need to put stickers on the traffic lights? Well, I’ll leave that for another post…