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Saturday night storm downs trees, cuts electricity in the south

Rescue services were kept busy cleaning up damage incurred by high winds and heavy rain from a severe thunderstorm, but report no deaths or serious injuries.

Kaatunut puu Pirkkolassa Helsingissä.
Downed trees in the Helsinki district of Pirkkola. Image: Markku Sipi

A severe thunderstorm that hit southern Finland Saturday evening brought gusts of wind up to 32.5 meters per second to the capital city region, proving too strong for the Finnish Meteorological Institute's (FMI) measuring devices.

"The gusts were very strong in Helsinki and its coastal area in particular. Our automated observation equipment rejected the measurements because the readings were so severe," says FMI meteorologist Henri Nyman.

FMI says its website crashed last night, due to the overwhelming amount of people who were checking in on the progress of the storm. The servers couldn't handle the surge in traffic.

Hundreds of 112 calls

In a story that was last updated at 11 pm Saturday evening, Yle interviewed rescue service representatives that said fires, downed trees and water damage kept them busy in the evening – but at the time it appeared that no one had been killed or badly hurt in the storm.

Rescue services say the worst damage from the storm concentrated in western Vantaa, where winds toppled dozens of trees in one go in some areas.

Already by nine pm, hundreds of calls had been made to emergency numbers, mostly about felled trees and traffic signs, and other debris that had been thrown about by the storm.

Western Uusimaa region's emergency teams were scrambling from 6 to 9 pm responding to over 70 calls, most of which concerned damage repair in Espoo and Kirkkonummi. Trees had fallen on streets, power lines and even buildings, and six fires had broken out. Water damage was also behind a few of the calls for help.

Rescue services would like to remind people that only situations that present an immediate danger should prompt a call to the 112 emergency number.

Electricity restored quickly

Power grid operator Caruna announced in the wee hours of the morning that it had already repaired most of the damage to its electric lines, restoring power to almost all of the approximately 20,000 properties it served in central and western Uusimaa that had experienced a blackout.

A power outage map maintained by the energy industry in Finland shows that as of 10:50 Sunday morning, some 6,000 customers in 18 municipalities were still without power, down from a peak of over 50,000 at around 9 pm the previous night.

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