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Finland braces for renewed warm, dry spell as Lapland sees record temperatures

Lapland was Finland's hottest region on Monday with a measuring station in the village of Utsjoki recording 33.5 degrees celsius.

A high-pressure front dominating Central and Eastern Europe is behind the drought and high temperature readings. Image: Mira Länsman
Yle News

A high-pressure front moving over Finland from the east is expected to continue the recent warm, dry spell for much of the country over the coming days, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Lapland was Finland's hottest region on Monday with a measuring station in the village of Utsjoki recording 33.5 degrees Celsius.

"Extreme heat in the Arctic Finland," FMI researcher Mika Rantanen tweeted (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Monday afternoon," Utsjoki Kevo just recorded 33.5°C (92.3°F), which is not only the station's new all-time heat record, but also the highest reliably measured temperature ever in the whole Finnish Lapland."

Lapland's all-time high was 34.7 degrees Celsius, reported in Thule, Inari on 7 July 1914. The highest ever reading in Finland is 37.2 degrees, measured in Joensuu in 2010.

Limited rains won't significantly affect drought

However, according to the FMI, a low-pressure front may start shifting across Finland towards Russia by the end of this week, bringing rain showers to central parts of the country.

"It will be roughly the same areas where the three severe June storms known as Ahti, Paula and Aatu hit," FMI meteorologist Jari Tuovinen said. "In any case, any potential rainfall will be quite limited in southern and eastern parts of the country."

So far, this month has only seen a few showers in the eastern and southern border regions, according to the FMI's data.

"Much like June, July has started off with really warm temperatures. There has been practically no rainfall this month yet. It seems like a new period of drought and heat is about to begin," Tuovinen predicted.

He added that the duration of the heatwave will determine whether the high pressure in Russia subsides or moves elsewhere.

"Currently, a high-pressure front is dominating Central and Eastern Europe. It seems that for the moment it is not going anywhere terribly far away, but will continue to affect the wider weather patterns," he said.

High pressure is synonymous with dry weather. However, if the front moves to the western part of the Nordic countries, pressure fronts would start coming into Finland from the Arctic Ocean and not from Siberia.

"That is what determines whether the temperatures will be reaching 30 or between 15 and 20 degrees," Tuovinen said.

About half the usual rain in June

Rainfall during the record-warm month of June was about half the normal amount in many parts of the country. In southern and central areas, rainfall measurements in June were well below the norm.

"Some stations measured heavy rainfall, for example in Salo it rained 67 millimetres, which is 15 millilitres more than in June on average," Tuovinen added.

The average amount of rainfall for the whole country was affected by Northern Finland, where heavier-than-usual rainfall was observed at many stations. The 119 millimetres measured in Rovaniemi is not only double the amount compared to the usual for the month of June, but also a record figure.

"It is actually the highest rainfall measured at Rovaniemi Airport. Heavy thunderstorms hit the area for quite a few days," Tuovinen said.

Water levels so far normal

Drought has now yet had an impact on the water level of lakes and groundwater yet, according to the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

When it comes to groundwater, drought is only observable after a delayed period, hydrologist Jari Uusikivi explained. Following spring, groundwater levels were at an average level, even rising in some places in early summer.

If the low rainfall trend continues into July however, groundwater levels may be significantly low by the end of this month. This will first become visible in people’s gardens and wells.

"There will definitely be problems in the water supply of wells if the low-rain weather persists," he said.

According to Uusikivi, the height of surface waters has currently remained at normal levels. However, as the dry weather continues, lake surface and river flow levels will likely recede.

"Surface water temperatures are already quite high. In some places, we are even close to surpassing the highest temperatures since the recording of temperatures began," Uusikivi said.

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