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Coast guard warns of thin ice

Finland is emerging from a deep freeze, giving way to milder temperatures and more snow.

Ihmisiä meren jäällä
File photo. Three people in Helsinki fell through the ice this weekend. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Meteorologists are forecasting slick roads in southern and central Finland as temperatures continue to rise.

In Vihti, some 55 kilometres northwest of Helsinki, the temperature between Saturday and Sunday rose from -27.5C to -8C, according to Yle meteorologist Kerttu Kotakorpi.

She said next week will see "normal winter weather," including more snow and moderate subzero conditions ranging from -20C in the north to around -10C in the south.

By midweek things will change. A weather system moving in from the west is expected to dump 15-20 centimeters of snow everywhere south of Tampere. That said, drivers in southern Finland can expect poor driving conditions on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, temperatures in the south may climb above freezing.

Coast guard: Don't venture onto ice

The coast guard is urging people to stay off waters that appear to be frozen. On Saturday three people in Helsinki fell through the ice at two different locations within the same 15-minute period.

Marko Siro, sea rescue director with the Gulf of Finland coast guard, said ice thickness was difficult to estimate in early winter. "Before midwinter’s solid ice, it’s impossible for anyone to predict where ice is weight bearing," he explained, adding that "it’s also a good idea to keep a phone somewhere it won’t get wet."

Siro said those venturing out onto the ice should be prepared to pull themselves up from icy water and don clothing that will keep them warm after falling in.

"Skating or skiing can get you out far on thin ice, which means you’d have to break a lot of ice to get to the edge of a block that will support your weight. This situation is often fatal."

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