First snow falls in Helsinki later every year
Competition to guess the big day
The City of Helsinki's Public Works Department has announced a competition to guess the date when the first snow will be cleared from Helsinki's streets. The date has appeared to be later and later in recent years.
Those who intend to take part in the competition will have to know more than just the date of the first snowfall. One has to be able to predict also how fast the Public Works Department is ready to get the ploughs out.
According to the rules of the competition, the criterion of the first snowfall is met when three out of the Public Works Department's six maintenance districts set off with their snowploughing vehicles to clear snow from the streets of the capital.
"The snowfall has to be a bit heavier than a dusting", says engineer Juha Mäkelä from the City's Public Works Department.
"It is rather difficult to say exactly how many centimetres the snow cover should be, and it also depends on the snow itself. Whether it is wet or dry, or whether it comes with strong winds and gets packed" , he notes.
Mäkelä reports further that the foreman of the Public Works Department will be on duty at night from the beginning of November.
"He will go around the city and evaluate when there is enough snow for the crew to set off", Mäkelä explains.
"However, each district is to assess the situation in its own area. The city is large, and if it is snowing in the district of Pitäjänmäki, it may be raining by the coast", he concludes.
The six maintenance depots of the Public Works Department are situated in the districts of Kamppi, Pitäjänmäki, Kyläsaari, Tattarisuo, Oulunkylä, and at the Roihupelto industrial area.
In addition to the criteria set by the Public Works Department, even some more official definitions of the first snow exist.
According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the first snow means an intact snow layer of at least one centimetre that has been measured in the morning.
Statistics of the first snow have been gathered since 1900. The earliest day for the first snow was recorded in 1928, when the first dump came in Kaisaniemi on September 29th.
On the other hand, the first snow has appeared later and later every year. Over the 30-year period from 1971 to 2000, the first snow appeared in Helsinki's Kaisaniemi around November 14th on average, while the first years of the current millennium saw the first snow around November 16th on average.
A hint for those who plan to participate in the competition: last year, the first snowplough based on the criteria of the Public Works Department set out on November 28th. To participate in the competition, see the web address below. The competition will run until October 27th.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Northern Lapland receives autumn´s first sprinkling of snow (21.9.2006)
First winter gales cause accidents and power failures (26.10.2006)
The City of Helsinki’s Public Works Department
Finnish Meteorological Institute
The First Snow Competition (in Finnish)