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Winter finally over? Last of the Kilpisjärvi ice expected to melt this week

It might not be the warmest summer on record, but Finland is set to finally see the end of the winter ice on one of its most famous lakes this week. Kilpisjärvi still had about 67 centimetres of ice on 10 June, but that should go in the coming days.

Kesäpäivä Kilpisjärvellä
Kilpisjärvi is one of Finland's coldest lakes. Image: Katri Niskanen, Kilpisjärvi

In Enontekiö, in Finnish Lapland, people have been able to go ice fishing and ice swimming into June.

"Someone rode a snow scooter on the eighth of June, or was it the tenth," said Suvi Mansikkasalo of the Kilpisjärvi visitor centre. "It looked wild, but he made it back to the shore."

Last week the Finnish Environment Agency reminded tourists and locals alike that it's dangerous to venture out onto weak lake ice. In truth the ice is now only at the northern end of the lake.

Record June ice

"The lower part of the lake has already melted completely," said Mansikkasalo. "The northern part of the lake has ice around Kolttalahti, and it won't be long before that's gone. I reckon that it will disappear by the end of the week, or most of it at least."

On 10 June the ice on lake Kilpisjärvi was measured at 67 centimetres, which is an all-time record for June. Generally ice has completely gone at Kilpisjärvi by the Midsummer holiday, but in 2016 it had all melted by the start of June.

The cold spring is responsible for delaying the ice melt by about a week, according to the Environment Agency. Most Lapland lakes were ice-free by the start of June.

Kilpisjärvi is exceptional as it is situated some 500 metres above sea level at the foot of the Saana fell, and tends to begin freezing again in October or November. Midsummer traditionally sees a 180-metre cross country skiing event on the remaining snow around the fell.

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