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Near-record snowfall in northern Finland brings avalanche warning

Forecasters have issued a warning for a level three avalanche risk for the next three days, at least.

Kolme laskettelijaa.
Conditions in Lapland are now perfect for winter sports. Image: AOP
Yle News

Skiers enjoying a winter break in Lapland are being warned that there is a high risk of avalanches occurring over the next several days.

According to regional forecasts issued by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, FMI, both natural and man-made avalanches are possible in areas such as Kilpisjärvi, Ounas-Pallas, Ylläs-Levi, Saariselkä, Luosto-Pyhä and Ruka.

The advisories indicate that there is a risk of level three avalanches on the five-stage scale. Last week FMI said that parts of Lapland had seen record amounts of snow this winter, although the all-time 1997 record of 190 centimetres in Kilpisjärvi remains unbroken.

FMI development manager Alberto Blanco Sequeiros said that it is not unusual for an avalanche warning to be issued for such a large area.

"There's now quite a lot of snow. It's in not at all exceptional that the snowfall brought by western [air] currents has covered all of Lapland," he noted.

Safety precautions necessary

Off-piste skiers are being advised to pay close attention to day-to-day weather forecasts provided by ski resorts. They are also being urged to ensure that take equipment such as phones and avalanche transceivers or beacons, which transmit a signal that helps others to locate them. Additionally, they have been warned not to go skiing alone, and to always keep a safe distance from other skiers.

FMI meteorologist Paavo Korpela said that Lapland can look forward to classic winter conditions next week, with daytime temperatures well below zero.

"Next week looks quite cold. There’s a chance of more snow on Monday, but it’s likely to be scattered flurries," he added.

FMI’s snow map indicates (in Finnish) that snow cover throughout Lapland and parts of Kainuu is at least one metre deep, unlike southern Finland where there is no snow on the ground.

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