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Heavy snow cover to increase over weekend as power cuts continue

Heavy, wet snow cover which has caused lengthy power cuts in parts of northern Finland looks set to worsen over the weekend.

Vuokatissa, Sotkamossa uudenvuodenaattona 31. joulukuuta 2017
Trees under the heavy snow load in Sotkamo on 31 December. Image: Kimmo Rauatmaa / Lehtikuva

There is no respite in sight for parts of northern Finland that have already suffered power cuts for more than a week thanks to heavy, wet snow toppling trees onto electricity transmission lines.

The outages were caused by trees creaking under heavy, wet snow and falling onto power lines, and prompted local emergency services to request help from the military.

According to Yle meteorologist Anne Borgström there is no let-up on the horizon.

"On Friday wet snow will fall almost all day in the North Karelia, North Savo and Kainuu areas," said Borgström. "The temperature will stay close to zero."

Snow cover map of Finland on 5.1.2017

That combination of heavy snowfall and temperatures close to freezing point creates the conditions for a heavy snow load on trees, which can in turn cause them to fall onto power lines. As of Friday more than a thousand people in Kainuu were without power, some of them for the fifth day in a row.

In parts of the affected region snow cover is some 30 centimetres deeper than the average for the time of year, and Friday's snowfall will add to that before temperatures dip on Saturday.

Authorities said on Thursday that they were racing to repair damaged power lines, but more faults were reported all the time so they were unable to clear the backlog.

On Sunday winds are expected to pick up, which could help shake off snow from trees, but on the other hand could also fell those already weakened by the snow, according to Borgström.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute says that the avalanche risk is considerable in Ruka, Luosto-Pyhä, Ylläs-Levi and Saariselkä. English-language weather information is available via their website.

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