Christmas traffic to get under way today
Owing to the way Christmas falls on the calendar this year, the first signs of heightened activity on the roads can be expected today, as people head for relatives or to spend Christmas in the countryside.
Jams are not expected to be very heavy this year, since the outbound traffic will be spread over three days.
On the other hand, according to the Finnish Road Administration, there is every chance that the lines of trucks waiting to cross into Russia will swell to dozens of kilometres.
Earlier worst-case scenarios had suggested the lines over the Christmas period could even surpass the current record of 60 kilometres.
Saturday will probably be the busiest day on the roads. On both Saturday and Sunday the peaks are likely to be in daylight hours between 9:00 and 15:00.
Most traffic will be encountered on main roads in Southern Finland, in particular on Highway 3 heading north from the capital to Tampere and beyond, and on Highway 4 to Lahti and then onwards to Jyväskylä and Mikkeli.
Shortish lines may build up around the larger cities at the busiest times, but provided that the road conditions remain normal, average speeds are not expected to decline much, according to the Finnish Road Administration.
On other roads, traffic is expected to flow smoothly, once again provided that the weather does not throw in a big gear to confuse matters.
The peak time for returning traffic will be on the 26th, when congestion will be at its greatest between 14:00 and 21:00.
At this point, with nearly all those who left over three days returning at the same time, some delays can be anticipated.
The Finnish Road Adminstration's pages provide useful information on likely road conditions over the holiday. Current forecasts suggest that temperatures will be above freezing in southern districts over the next few days, with Christmas Day the warmest of all.
It is nevertheless always worth checking out the prospects from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
One thing at least seems pretty certain: people in the south of the country are very unlikely to experience a white Christmas this year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Little hope for white Christmas again in Southern Finland (20.12.2007)
Finnish Road Administration
Finnish Meteorological Institute