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Heavy rains spur flooding, snarl transport in Helsinki region

Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) says that Metro service may be disrupted until around midnight.

Rautatientorin metroasema tulvi Helsingissä 23. elokuuta.
The Metro stop beneath the main railway station suffered significant flooding. Image: Ulla Malminen / Yle

Heavy downpours hit the capital region on Friday morning, causing transport disruptions and delayed opening hours. Water flowed into tunnels and buildings, hampering morning commutes and closing roads and buildings.

Yle meteorologist Matti Huutonen says that more plentiful rains are moving in from the southwest in the afternoon.

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Pelastuslaitos pumppasi vettä liikkeen tiloista Helsingin Mikonkadulla 23. elokuuta.
Rescue workers pumped water out of a building on Mikonkatu. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

"I wouldn't be surprised if today brings the whole monthly average of rain," Huutonen said in the early afternoon.

Helsinki usually gets 70-80 millimetres of rain during August. Friday morning alone brought 56 mm of water to Kaisaniemi Park, where the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has a weather station.

Tunnels under train station flooded

With many roads and tunnels flooded, the Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) reported many delays.

In the early afternoon it said that Metro trains were not running between the Ruoholahti and Helsinki University stations, a stretch that includes the Central Railway Station stop, which suffered significant flooding.

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Rautatieaseman metrolaituri tulvi 23. elokuuta rankkasateen seurauksena.
Metro platforms were awash in downtown Helsinki. Image: Ulla Malminen / Yle

Metro trains are running to the east and west of the city centre, but at irregular intervals and skipping some stops. Service may be disrupted until around midnight, HSL says.

As a replacement, the Lauttasaari buses 20 and 21 are driving directly to the Kamppi terminal, skipping the Bulevardi and Eira segments of their routes.

The Helsinki Rescue Department says that worst hit by the morning floods were the Metro stop under the Railway Station and the nearby Eliel underground parking garage, where water was up to a metre and a half deep.

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Rautatieaseman alla tulvi 23. elokuuta.
Many cars were stranded or submerged in the Eliel parking garage. Image: Kustaa Valtonen

Rescue workers were still pumping out water in the afternoon. During the morning the department tackled water damage at 27 sites, included overflowing sewers and flooded cellars.

The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art said that its exhibition areas would not open until 3 pm due to water damage. The Kaari shopping mall in Kannelmäki was partly closed, with escalators and lifts at a standstill.

Fuel spill and slippery roads

In Helsinki's Pikku Huopalahti neighbourhood, pedestrian walkways were impassible due a stream overflowing its banks. On Varikkotie, a cloudburst knocked over a 3,000-litre fuel tank at a construction site, spilling some of the contents.

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Sadevesi pulppusi kaivokannen sivuista Ruoholahdessa Helsingissä 23. elokuuta
Water spurted out of a sewage pipe in Ruoholahti. Image: Pasi Rein / Lehtikuva

The FMI warns of more heavy rain, with an additional 50 mm possible, and a risk of hydroplaning on road surfaces in the Uusimaa region, especially in underpasses and lower elevations.

It also issued a wind warning for the Gulf of Finland, with southwesterly gale force winds of 15 metres per second in the afternoon and evening, making it hazardous for recreational craft and small boats. The FMI also warns of rough waves of more than 2.5 metres on Friday evening.

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Pelastuslaitos pumppasi sadevettä ulos Elielin parkkihallista Helsingissä 23. elokuuta.
Work to pump water out of the Eliel parking hall went on into the afternoon. Image: Irene Stachon / Lehtikuva

In neighbouring Espoo, 48 mm of precipitation was recorded on Friday morning, and at least one major road, Tekniikantie, was closed. Besides Espoo, rescue officials responded to water damage calls in Kirkkonummi and Siuntio.

Elsewhere in Finland, areas just south of Oulu received 5-10 mm of rain per hour, while some parts of North Savo and North Karelia received as much as 20-30 mm an hour, says meteorologist Nina Karusto of the FMI.

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