Flooding is expected to peak in many rivers in Southern Finland this week
Pack-ice in Vantaankoski Rapids is being cleared by backhoe loaders
”It is true that the current is quite strong, as even the ducks are swimming so fast. However, I do not believe that the water would now rise much higher than normal. We have had worse years before”, says Esko Santanen, who has gone jogging from Helsinki’s district of Veräjämäki to Oulunkylä, and was standing on a bridge and measuring the surges of water on Monday at noon.
However, Jyrki Heinonen from the Pukinmäki district in Northeastern Helsinki was slightly more concerned. He is preparing for his eighth summer in an allotment garden.
”I have to come here every day to check the situation, although we put water-resistant insulation under the floor of our cottage in 2004”, Heinonen noted.
At Oulunkylä, the flow of the River Vantaanjoki was some 125 to 130 cubic metres per second on Monday, while in the summer of 2004 it was some 175 cubic metres per second.
The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) forecasts that the peak flow of around 150 cubic metres per second will be recorded on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
”We may have overestimated the strength of the upcoming flooding earlier”, said Chief Hydrologist Bertel Vehviläinen from SYKE on Monday.
”We will have to continue to be on the alert for ice for a while, as there is a risk of ice dams”, pointed out Kari Rantakokko, the head of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport, and the Environment in the province of Uusimaa.
On Monday evening, a backhoe loader started to remove ice at the Vantaankoski Rapids in order to prevent the formation of ice dams and to keep a nearby restaurant out of the danger zone.
So far, the flooding brought about by melting waters has not caused much damage to properties in the Greater Helsinki area.
Over the Easter weekend, the Helsinki City Rescue Department had a couple of pumping assignments per day.
Following the flooding of the River Keravanjoki, the Rescue Department of Central Uusimaa had to pump water from the basements of a few detached houses in Vantaa and Kerava.
The rather cool night between Sunday and Monday slowed down the rise of floodwaters in many places, estimated the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport, and the Environment.
The weather in the next few days will have a pivotal impact on future flood damage.
Heavy rains and mild night temperatures could raise the flows in rivers rapidly, aggravating flooding.
As anyone can see, there is still plenty of snow on the ground, which is why the water levels keep rising.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute predicts that the weather in the next few days will be rather unsettled.
However, no very heavy rains are to be expected until the end of the week, while occasional night frosts may occur even in Southern Finland, reported duty meteorologist Leila Konkola.
The daytime temperatures will be +5°C to +10°C.
Apart from the southern coast, the floods are also expected to peak in the small rivers in Southwestern Finland and South Ostrobothnia.
However, the flooding situation in the Uskela River in the western town of Salo eased already on Monday, and the neighbouring buildings were no longer at risk. Explosives were used to break up the ice, after which backhoe loaders removed the blocks.
Some roads in Southern Finland were cut off, including Sannaistentie in Porvoo.
In Ypäjä, a municipality in Southwestern Finland, the ice drift of the river Loimijoki caused some problems.
Further flood peaks are expected to be recorded in the southern rivers of Keravanjoki, Siuntionjoki, and Karjaanjoki.
In the next few days, even the southern rivers of Virojoki, Taasiajoki, Koskenkylänjoki, Ilolanjoki, Porvoonjoki, Mustijoki, Espoonjoki, and Mankinjoki will also be threatened by at least an average spring flood.
In South Ostrobothnia, the flows of some rivers increased at Easter, but in some other rivers the water levels dropped as the weather became slightly colder.
In Lapland, the floods are predicted to peak at the end of April or in May.
Even small streams and ditches are now experiencing strong currents.
Creeks that normally have hardly any water in the summer months may now be dangerously deep when it comes to children’s playing, warns duty fire chief Taisto Hakala from the Helsinki Rescue Department.
After the winter, the banks of ditches are very soft and break down easily.
Hakala advises parents to keep a close eye on their children and the places where they are playing.
FACTFILE: What to do when risk of flooding threatens
Get some sand, sacks, and plastic to protect the banks of a river or a stream or to cover the lower parts of the walls of buildings.
Find out how you could block the sub-surface drains and culverts to prevent flooding water from passing underneath a road to your plot.
If the basement of your house is at risk, make sure that the checkvalve of the sanitary sewer is in order.
Get a pump and learn how to use it.
Protect all electronic devices, including the oil burner.
Open all ditches, gutters, and culverts, if the flood has been caused by melting snow.
Clear grating lids and manhole covers of snow and ice and make sure that the drain works.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Ambulances in danger of getting stuck in melting slush as thaw comes (23.3.2010)
Snow removal from roofs causes fatal accidents (1.3.2010)
Rescue workers ready to react if roofs collapse (25.2.2010)
Record number of building collapses this winter (30.3.2010)
Snow load on roofs getting risky in places (24.2.2010)
Finnish Meteorological Institute: Weather this severe 40 years ago (24.2.2010)
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Finnish Meteorological institute
Centre for Economic Development, Transport, and the Environment