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Blowing snow slows Easter traffic, delays planes and trains

A Monday snowstorm created dangerous road conditions on Finland's motorways. Several flights and train routes were cancelled or delayed.

Aeroflotin ja Finnairin koneet lumipyryssä Helsinki-Vantaan lentokentällä.
The Helsinki Airport is famous for its efficient snow removal Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

A front of heavy snow and high winds hit the southern coast of Finland early Monday morning, moving northwards. By one pm the snowfall had reached Tampere, and weather authorities say it will be as far north as Oulu and Kuusamo by six pm.

By this time, the effects of the accumulated snow are estimated to be most acute. Yle meteorologist Toni Hellinen says the southern city of Kouvola has received the most snowfall so far, at 11 centimetres.

The Finnish Transport Agency tweeted this morning that vehicle owners that have already switched their tyres to their summer set "have no business on the road".

Road traffic management announced at around noon that numbers of return holiday traffic had picked up, but no major congestion or accidents had been reported all morning.

"Motorists would do well to drive very carefully in traffic if there's snow on the road," says traffic management operator Marko Kolattu. "Conditions on the road are only going to get worse."

Helsinki Police also tweeted their regards, asking people to take their time and be patient behind the wheel.

Delays at the airport and train station

As of 3 pm, 19 flights at the Helsinki Airport were cancelled. According to airport operator Finavia's update online at 1:15 pm, the airport has taken low visibility procedures into use, meaning that the capacity available for landings has been reduced and 15 minutes delays are expected.

"In spite of the windy and snowy weather conditions we will do our best to keep the runways open and operations running as smoothly as possible. Finavia’s world famous snow patrol is ready to do the snow removal on the runways in 11 minutes," the operator says.

Finavia says the heavy snowfall also tends to slow down the de-icing of the planes and the loading and unloading of baggage. It asks passengers to use only carry-ons if possible to help speed up the process.

Train traffic has also experienced delays. The state-owned railway company VR's website notes two 15 minute delays to trains serving the Helsinki-Joensuu route. A new punctuality function of the web pages shows that as of 2 pm, 71 percent of long-distance and 90 percent of commuter trains have been running on schedule.

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