Blizzard brings up to 30 centimetres of snow - traffic badly hit again
Dreadful weather conditions continued in Finland on Wednesday, with a fierce blizzard complicating life in the southern and central parts of the country. In places up to 30 centimetres of snow were recorded. Traffic on the main roads was badly hit, as were rail and sea connections, but no serious accidents were reported.
The rail traffic between the cities of Lahti and Lappeenranta came to a three-hour halt at 8:30 in the evening when the gusty winds caused some trees to fall on the track. Six of the evening's departures ran late because of this.
The snow cover is expected to stay on the ground in the coming days, for the weather forecast predicts the temperature will stay below freezing. The heavy snowfall, however, seems to be over for now.
The blizzard started on Tuesday, when warm moist air from the sea met with a cold continental front.
While the coastal areas received both rain, sleet, and snow, further inland a heavy snowfall turned the landscape white.
The municipality of Kalvola in the Province of Häme, for one, had received 29 centimetres of snow by Wednesday morning.
"This doesn't happen every winter, that's for sure", says meteorologist Matti Heinonen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
In places the blizzard made for chaos on the roads. The Pirkanmaa Emergency Exchange was notified of no less than 130 collisions in a 24-hour period. The City of Tampere simply did not have enough vehicles equipped with snowploughs to deal with such a heavy and abrupt dump of snow.
Trailer trucks stuck in the snow and slush were a particular nuisance on many of the highway stretches in Southern Finland. Trucks jammed up traffic for several hours on Highway 3 in Hämeenkyrö, Highway 10 in Tarvasjoki, and Highway 12 in Savitaipale.
Some of the express ferry departures between Helsinki and Tallinn were again cancelled because of the treacherous weather conditions.
Train timetables were affected in Tampere and Lahti. Because of the electrical switches that kept freezing up, every other departure between Helsinki and Tampere had to be cancelled.
The faults were repaired in the afternoon and today, Thursday, all the trains should run again as normal, the state railway company VR assures users.
Fixing the power lines that were damaged by falling trees will take longer, however. Thousands of households in the Provinces of Finland Proper and Northern Savo may have to manage without electricity even through Thursday.
The mail delivery services are also struggling with the snow and slippery roads. "We received half of the winter's snow in one night. What is that all about?" postman Veikko Pasanen from Lappeenranta laughs, surrounded by chest-deep piles of snow.
According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute the snow will not melt right away. Temperatures in the region of -5 to -10 degrees Celsius are predicted for southern and central parts of the country.
The forecast for Lapland is 15 to 20 degrees below freezing.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Bad weather causes more than a hundred minor accidents in Southern Finland (1.11.2006)
Blizzard and awful road conditions forecast for Southern Finland (31.10.2006)
Finnish Meteorological Institute