FMI expert: Ice thickness unpredictable despite cold weather

Ice-venturers should wait until the ice cover reaches a thickness of at least 10 cm before walking on frozen water, according to expert Jouni Vainio.

Several alerts about drownings and other ice-cover related accidents have already been made in several parts of Finland. Photo of frozen waters under Vuosaari bridge taken on 30 November. Image: Vesa Marttinen / Yle

Ice cover is still unreliable and weak on lakes and coastal waters across Finland, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

Measurements conducted in Laajalahti on Thursday morning showed that the ice thickness between Helsinki and Espoo currently varies between two to five centimeters.

Ice cover expert at the FMI, Jouni Vainio, says that on-ice activities are still too risky, especially in the South.

"Five-centimeter-thick ice cover can take on about a hundred kilograms of weight if it is smooth, which is something that naturally formed ice is not. At least 10 centimeters is needed before [safely] stepping on the ice," Vainio says.

Weak ice warnings have been issued in several areas across the country in recent weeks. Unstable ice recently cost the lives of two men around 70 years of age, who drowned in North Savo on Wednesday.

Despite warnings, some skiers and skaters have already begun venturing on the frozen water in and around Finland. According to Vainio, this is usually the case for experienced ice venturers.

"They often have a dry suit on and carry spare clothes with them, packed in waterproof storage. If you know how to move on the ice, you can, but generally speaking, it is not yet time," Vainio explains.

The ice cover situation can be monitored from the Finnish Meteorological Institute's ice map (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (In Finnish).