Stormwinds leave thousands without power

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A storm that swept across Estonia on Saturday had left 33,000 households without power by 3.30 p.m., most of them in Rapla and Jõgeva counties. Restoring power could take until Sunday evening, network operator Elektrilevi said. Ferry traffic to the island of Hiiumaa was disrupted for some hours around noon on Saturday.

Extraordinarily strong storm winds caused extensive power outages all over Estonia on Saturday. Even though Elektrilevi restored power to more than 15,000 clients, 22,100 households were still without power by 8 p.m.

The number of outages had fallen to 17,500 by 10.30 p.m.

Havoc wreaked by the storm was worst in Pärnu, Rapla and Jõgeva counties, with 3,700 outages in Rapla County, 3,400 in Pärnu County and over 3,000 in Jõgeva county still at 10.30 p.m. on Saturday

Information from Elektrilevi suggests 10,385 clients were still without power on Sunday morning, with outages in all counties except Hiiumaa and Lääne County.

In Rapla County, 2,456 clients were without power, with the figure at 2,178 in Jõgeva County. In the rest of Estonia, the service was available for over 95 percent of consumers.

At the peak of the storm, over 34,000 households were without power.

"The storm today has done a lot of damage to the grid. Wind speeds reached 30 meters per second and more that brought trees down on power lines in many places," said Hardi Puusepp, chief specialist at Elektrilevi's command center. "We are doing everything we can to restore power to our clients," he said on Saturday, adding that it is possible power will not be restored before the middle of next week in some places.

The worst single outage took place in Hiiumaa where 7,076 clients were left without electricity at 10.27 a.m. Power was restored to clients in just seven minutes as operators managed to reroute capacity remotely.

Elektrilevi urges people not to approach severed power lines as the ground beneath them could be live and deliver a life-threatening shock. The company asks people to call its 1343 hotline to report outages and other dangerous situations.

The Rescue Board had received over 450 storm-related calls by 3.30 p.m. on Saturday, with roughly one third of them from Pärnu County. There were over 60 calls also from Järva and Rapla counties, the board said.

People put themselves in danger

The western rescue center's press representative on call Viktor Saaremets said that the main problem in Pärnu were trees falling on roads and power lines. "Trees have also caused damage to buildings and outbuildings. Two people were caught under a falling tree in Valgeranna and were injured. Both were taken to hospital. The storm has also damaged larger buildings. It destroyed the lobby area of the Martens House in Pärnu. Luckily, no one was caught under the falling tree there. The shops are open and people were moving about," Saaremets told "Aktuaalne kaamera."

The wind ripped off a part of the tin roof of the Pärnu Beach House (Rannamaja) and propelled its pieces through the air. Saaremets said that people who went to the beach or parks to witness the storm put their lives seriously at risk.

"It is a foolish thing to do if I'm being honest, especially in this kind of weather. While one might think these gusts are similar to fall storms, it needs to be kept in mind that the trees have leaves in summer, making them veritable sails. And a gust of 26-27 meters per second can rip up a tree with its roots. There have been quite a few such examples today. Should there be more days like this – the wind seems to be dying down today – for God's sake, people, stay home. I mean it," Saaremets said.

The storm first hit the island of Saaremaa on Saturday morning. The strongest winds – up to 27 meters per second, were measured at Roomassaare at around 11 a.m. The storm left over 1,700 clients without power in Saaremaa at one point and brought down a lot of trees in Kuressaare and all over the island. The Rescue Board was called in to help remove over 30 trees. A person was injured when they were hit by the branches of a falling tree in Kuressaare.

Ferry operator TS Laevad said that difficult weather conditions meant the 11.30 a.m. departures on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa line [to Hiiumaa] from both ports had to be cancelled. The first ferries departed from both ports at 1 p.m.

The ferry link between the mainland and Saaremaa was not disrupted.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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