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Blizzard causes traffic chaos, power outages

Heavy snowfall, especially in southern and southwestern areas, is expected to continue into Wednesday.

Snow falling outside Helsinki Central train station on Tuesday morning. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

A snowstorm has led to power outages and hazardous driving conditions across southern and southwestern Finland on Tuesday.

The blizzard has also extended to western and central parts of the country, but significantly less snow has fallen in these areas.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued a series of weather warnings (siirryt toiseen palveluun) in relation to dangerous driving conditions, especially in the south and southwest.

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A cyclist pushing a bike through the blizzard next to Senate Square in Helsinki. Image: Benjamin Suomela / Yle

Police in Uusimaa said they received a total of 45 reports of traffic accidents by mid-morning on Tuesday, including three crashes which occurred on Ykköstie near Laajalahti in Espoo at almost exactly the same time.

An individual involved in one of those accidents was taken to hospital for examination, but their injuries are not believed to be serious.

Traffic control company Fintraffic reported that several accidents have also occurred on Helsinki’s Ring Road III and that traffic is slow in both directions.

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A car driving through the blizzard in Ostrobothnia Image: Roy Fogde / Yle

There have been reports of several incidents in other areas as well, including a serious crash between a car and a truck near the city of Seinäjoki and a bus veering off the road near Pori, with one passenger taken to hospital.

Capital chaos

The storm has caused major disruption to public transport services in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, with reports of Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) buses becoming stuck on hilly roads because of the slippery conditions.

The heavy snowfall has also caused tram tracks to clog with snow, causing service delays.

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Commuters awaiting the arrival of a train at Tapanila station in Helsinki. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

HSL Communications Officer Tapio Tolmunen said passengers should set aside plenty of time to reach their destinations.

The Helsinki Rescue Department has also urged people to avoid unnecessary travel around the capital region.

In addition to traffic and transport disruption, strong winds have caused power outages.

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A worker clearing snow from in front of an office building in Kallio, Helsinki. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

There were about 12,000 homes without power across the country by Tuesday afternoon, according to Finnish Energy, the trade association for the energy sector.

According to Yle meteorologist Matti Huutonen, about 15 to 20 centimeters of snow fell in southern and southwestern regions druing Monday night and Tuesday morning, with the snowfall expected to continue into Wednesday afternoon.

"It doesn't happen every year. However, it is still too early to say how exceptional this snowfall is," Huutonen said.