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Flooding in Southern Finland – but no records broken yet

Heavy rains over the past 10 days have raised river levels, and more precipitation is expected this week.

Vettä viljapellolla
Large puddles have formed in many fields. Image: Anna Wikman / Yle

Steady rains over the past week have raised water levels across southern Finland. Rivers are full to the brim, and in some areas are spilling over in fields, says Bertel Vehviläinen, chief hydrologist from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

No damage to buildings is likely anytime soon, though, Vehviläinen said on Yle's TV1 breakfast show on Tuesday. He says that small lakes are already at the levels that they usually attain during the spring thaw. Some 100 mm of rain has fallen over past 10 days in many places along the south coast.

Hydrologi Bertel Vehviläisen mukaan suurimmat tulvat tulevat aina yllätyksenä.
Vehviläinen Image: Jarmo Honkanen / Yle

"We've got real autumn flooding underway, which will continue as long as the water keeps coming down, probably all week," Vehviläinen says. The forecast for the Uusimaa region, for instance, calls for drier conditions on Thursday and Friday before rain returns on Saturday.

The SYKE scientist predicts that river and lake water levels will keep rising, but he does not foresee any particularly exceptional situation.

"The situation is not normal, but we're not close to breaking any records though," he observes.

Southern rivers on the rise

According to SYKE's overall water prognosis, rivers in the Uusimaa area, which includes Helsinki, are to set to keep rising until at least Wednesday, perhaps longer. The National Flood Centre has issued a flood warning for four places in southern Finland, two of them in Espoo and two in Kouvola.

Vehviläinen says that heavy rain is also in the offing for Ostrobothnia in western Finland, but that so far there has been little flooding in the area.

In eastern Finland, meanwhile, water levels are high in many lakes after abundant rains in early September.  Some lakes are more than half a metre above average.

Vehviläinen says that on the positive side, the rains are improving the groundwater situation. Low groundwater levels have caused problems this year, especially in south-western and western Finland.

More rain is forecast on Tuesday in many parts of the country, although the sun may make an appearance in northern Lapland and eastern Finland.

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