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Weekend rains spur flooding; water levels at 25-year highs in some areas

According to the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), floodwaters will likely spill onto fields and roads in parts of southern and western Finland, but not into buildings.

Tulvat ovat nousseet pellolle.
Rivers may overflow into fields in coastal areas (file photo of flooding near the Lapua River in Kauhava last April). Image: Kati Ala-Renko / Yle
Yle News

Recent mild, rainy weather has brought flooding to fields in some parts of Finland. River levels are now unusually high due to melting snow and heavy rains, especially in the south and west.

For example, the Siuntio River in western Uusimaa hit its average annual high on Saturday, which is rare just two weeks into the year, according to Harri Myllyniemi, a hydrologist at the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke).

The Loimi and Perniö rivers in southwest Finland had overflowed their banks into nearby low-lying fields. The Loimi River had risen by a metre and a half since Thursday in the town of Huittinen.

Sunday is predicted to be rainier than Saturday, raising water levels even further, especially along the south coast and throughout southwestern Finland. However, Myllyniemi does not believe that the floods will cause direct damage at this point.

"We don't expect buildings to get inundated at the moment. Besides wet fields, some local roads may be underwater in the worst places," he said.

Highest levels since late '90s

However, Myllyniemi said that the situation is unusual, especially considering the time of year. The last time the water levels were this high in some places was in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

On the other hand, there is currently no danger of river flooding in central, northern and eastern Finland, he said.

Lake levels in southern, central and southeastern Finland are also still lower than usual in some places, although they have risen due to the rainy weather.

According to Myllyniemi, the weather forecasts for next week are still imprecise, so it is difficult to predict how the flood situation will develop in the days to come.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued flood alerts for western and southern coastal areas through Tuesday. It predicts more mild, unstable weather conditions for most of next week, with slightly cooler temperatures.

In the Uusimaa region of southern Finland, for instance, the forecast is for significant precipitation and above-freezing temperatures through at least Wednesday.

In late 2019, the Finnish Climate Change Panel warned of more frequent flooding in the country as the climate warms.

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