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Cloudiest winter in 25 years

Days in Helsinki have been exceptionally dark so far this year. Since the start of December, the sun has shone through the clouds for a mere 50 hours. That is less direct sunlight than in 25 years and the third fewest hours in half a century.

Ihmisä lumisateessa Helsingin Kolmensepänaukiolla helmikuussa.
Helsinki's winter has been one of the most sunless on record. Image: Lehtikuva

If residents of the Finish capital feel like it has seemed gloomy of late, they are right. Measurements by the Finnish Meteorological Institute at Helsinki-Vantaa airport show that between the beginning of December and Monday, February 18, the capital region has seen the sun for only 50 hours.

The last winter that was cloudier during the same period was in 1987–1988 (48 hours of sunshine), while the gloomiest of the last half-century was in 1964-1965 (38 hours).

Sunnier last winter

Last year, Helsinki had 80 hours of sunshine during this same period.

"Last winter was noticeably sunnier. The winter before that, by this time, we had had up to 92 hours of sun, almost 50% more than this winter," says Ville Siiskonen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Siiskonen adds that cloudy skies are the norm during the winter months.

"Since the sun is not as strong during the winter, the ground freezes, that cools the air and the humidity in the air condenses into fog or clouds," he explains.

In what could be a comforting thought for residents of Helsinki right now, Ville Siiskonen adds that the farther north one goes in the winter, the more rarely the sun rises above the horizon.

"At Utsjoki the sunless winter darkness lasts for almost two months," Siiskonen points out.

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