Heavy snowfall delays flights and causes problems on road and rail in Southern Finland
Four dead in traffic accidents
A major blizzard that started late on Sunday afternoon, coupled with some strong winds, disrupted traffic in Southern Finland.
Dozens of accidents occured on slippery roads, and there were fatalities: a total of four people were killed.
One of the fatal crashes occurred on Nahkelantie in Tuusula after 3.00 p.m. when a passenger car drifted onto the oncoming lane, crashing into another car.
A middle-aged woman and her 17-year-old son died, while the driver of the vehicle was the father of the family. Two others injured in the accident were taken to the Töölö Hospital for medical care.
Two people died in another traffic accident on Highway 7 in Ruotsinpyhtää in Eastern Uusimaa just before 3.00 p.m. The crash involved a total of four passenger cars.
In both cases, the road was slippery and the driving conditions were very poor, like nearly everywhere in Southern Finland on Sunday. At the same time, whirling snow was hampering visibility.
Police reported dozens of accidents in Southern Finland on Sunday. In Central and Eastern Uusimaa alone, a total of 20 vehicles crashed or drove off the road. Most accidents were minor fender-benders.
On Ring Road III in Vantaa’s Heikinlaakso, two persons were slightly injured in an accident involving three vehicles.
”The largest number of accidents occured in the afternoon between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.”, reported Sergeant Sari Nuolikoski from the Helsinki mobile police.
At the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, the blizzard delayed both inbound and outbound flights. The longest delays of Finnair flights lasted several hours.
”The number of delayed flights during the day has been in the dozens”, said Finnair information officer Päivi Huuhtanen.
The delays were a consequence of the fact that it was not possible to keep the runways open without having a ten-minute cleaning break once in an hour.
On the other hand, the blizzard affected rail traffic rather less. The Finnish rail operator VR nonetheless reported that some trains were running behind schedule, around 20 minutes or so at the most.
The high winds also put the ferries between Helsinki and Tallinn to the test.
In spite of the rough weather, all ferries managed to keep their schedules, reported information officer Laura Saksala from Tallink Silja early on Sunday evening.
According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the wind speed in the Gulf of Finland was occasionally in excess of 21 m/s.
In Helsinki’s Kaisaniemi the gusts of wind were also measured to reach up to 18 m/s.
While the high winds started to abate after 4.00 p.m., the snowstorm continued.
On Sunday evening, the coastal areas of Southern Finland were hit with 5 to 10 centimetres of snow on average, while for example in Porvoo the snow cover had turned from a 4-cm layer in the morning into 24-centimetre drifts by nightfall.
”On Monday, the snowfall is expected to weaken gradually”, meteorologist on duty Niko Tollman predicted, but more snow will be received on Wednesday.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute warns that people heading for relatives or to spend Christmas in the countryside should be prepared for poor road conditions, as a low pressure area is forecast to cause another blizzard which will bring more snow to Southern Finland in particular.
Northern Finland is predicted to continue to enjoy the freeze with less snow.
The chances are now high that all parts of the country will enjoy a white Christmas, though some may already be wondering if the quantities of the white stuff received are not perhaps a little excessive - the clearance of drives and yards is a laborious business, especially as the snow continues to fall.
Previously in HS International Edition:
White Christmas looks like being a reality (16.12.2009)
Finnish Meteorological Institute: five-day forecast for Helsinki