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"Coldest air mass in Europe" brings -38.7 degree winter record

The Finnish Meteorological Institute measured freezing temperatures in Lapland, which broke this winter's record.

Lähikuva lumisesta sammaleesta
Ice crystals form on a patch of moss. Image: Heini Holopainen / Yle

The coldest place in Finland is currently the city of Sodankylä in Arctic Lapland, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

Meteorologists measured several new records in a row for the winter season 2018-2019 over the weekend. The mercury fell to -36.7 degrees Celsius in Kuusamo around 10 pm, falling past -37 degrees before midnight and finally reaching -38.7 degrees in Sodankylä around 5 am.

FMI meteorologist Ari-Juhani Punkka said the bone-chilling frost is brought on by an Arctic air mass moving through northern and eastern Finland.

"When you have lots of snow, an Arctic air mass and clear skies, you get biting temperatures," Punkka explained. "East of the Ural Mountains conditions are even more severe and temperatures are colder. We're getting some of that cold now."

Punkka said that the mass of air currently freezing large parts of the country is the coldest such front currently active within Europe. Subzero figures nearing -40 degrees Celsius are common wintertime lows in Finland.

"The last time we went under -40 degrees was as recently as 2017," Punkka said.

Icy cold in store until Monday

The coldest temperature ever measured in Finland is from 1999, when the FMI reported a record low of -51.5 degrees Celsius in Kittilä, also in Lapland.

Weather reports predict freezing conditions from Sunday to Monday morning. Meteorologists said that the cold may not sting too harshly as hard winds are not expected. Temperatures may also fall between -20 to -30 degrees Celsius in the south.

Over Monday the chill is set to subside somewhat, though temperatures in Arctic Finland will likely remain at some -20 degrees Celsius.

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