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Monday's papers: Snowy roads, blood donors, defeats in ring and rink, comet on the rise

The likelihood of a white Christmas and a special treat in the winter night sky are among the items in the morning's press.

Autoo ajaa lumisateessa
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat was one of many papers cautioning drivers this morning that snowfall will make roads and highways slippery during the morning commute.

At the time of publication, the snow front had moved into the southwest, heading north and east. IS quotes Nina Karusto of the Finnish Meteorological Institute as saying that southern parts of the country will see the heaviest snowfall today, with five centimetres or more in some areas.

Sub-zero Celsius temperatures are also expected to continue this week, except in some coastal areas.

The freesheet Metro writes that the snow accumulating today and possibly tomorrow might just mean a white Christmas for most of the country. FMI Meteorologist Ville Siiskonen told this paper that even though a firm forecast for Christmas Eve is not yet available, it does look like the holiday week will be wintry.

November temperatures were unusually mild nationwide, and exceptionally so in Finnish Lapland, with precipitation at around half the normal level.

At the start of December there was less than 10 centimetres of snow in the east and north, and none to speak of in the rest of the country.

Updating blood donations

Every holiday season, the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service makes a special appeal to blood donors.

Finland's leading Swedish-language daily, Hufvudstadsbladet, reports that the Red Cross is updating its blood supply management system, in part to keep in closer contact with donors.

At present, hospitals still order blood by fax or telephone. A new computer system being launched by the Blood Service will help predict the amount of blood needed at any given time.

Also, to get ten people to donate blood, the service currently has to send out one hundred phone text messages. With its new computer system christened "Vein-to-Vein", it hopes to establish more direct contact with potential donors.

"With the new system, we can profile blood donors as many other modern companies have done with their customers. We can calculate the likelihood that a particular donor will respond to the call. In addition, donors can answer the request [through the system]," Professor Martti Syrjälä, Director of Blood Services told Hufvudstadsbladet.

The service needs about 800 blood donations every day.

"With the new system, we can make more accurate forecasts. Our hope is that blood products will never run out of stock, and we will have just the right amount of blood products on hand," Syrjälä added.

Blood donation services in most parts of Europe have lagged behind digital development. For example, in France and Germany, hospitals still order blood using printed forms. Some Nordic countries are more advanced, but Syrjälä said that he is unaware of any country that has implemented a comprehensive computerised solution.

Defeats in ring and rink

Finnish super-featherweight boxer Eva Wahlström met defeat for the first time in her professional career on Sunday when she went up against IBF and WBA lightweight title holder Katie Taylor in New York's Madison Square Garden. Judges awarded the match 10-0 to the Irish boxer after ten rounds.

In a report in today's Aamulehti, Pekka Mäki, a member of Wahlström's support team, said that Wahlström was holding her own until the two boxers bumped their heads in the third round. After that, he told the paper, Wahlström was a step behind for the rest of the bout.

Wahlström herself said that she wasn't especially disappointed by the outcome, having expected Taylor to be just as good and as fast as she was. The Finnish challenger suffered face cuts that required stitches and that will keep her out of competition for the next 60 days.

Also in sports news, Aamulehti reported on the 5-0 hammering that Team Russia gave Finland's national ice hockey team in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Although the Finns dominated most of the first period of play, Russia's first goal in the final minute turned the whole game around.

Finland remained scoreless for the remainder of the match, as Russia racked up four more. The final of the Euro Hockey Tour Channel One Cup ended with Russia in first place, Finland in second, followed by Sweden and the Czech Republic.

Wandering star

According to Helsingin Sanomat, if and when the skies clear, stargazers are in for a treat as Comet 46P-Wirtanen will be making an appearance through the next week or two, starting Monday evening.

The heavenly body can be seen about every five years, but during this pass it will come unusually close to earth, making it visible to the naked eye.

According to Veikko Mäkelä of the astronomy association Ursa, to the naked eye Wirtanen will likely look like a foggy featureless ball of light traversing across the sky the equivalent of the width of about three full moons an hour.

While the comet is expected to be at its brightest Monday night, it will be worthwhile trying to catch sight of it again later this month. Mäkelä suggests that a good time for sighting Comet Wirtanen will be just before moonrise on Boxing Day, the 26th.

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