More than 6,000 households on the Western Estonian islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu remain without power on Saturday evening after being hit with significant snow overnight and more wintry precipitation all day. Mobile communications have also been disrupted in parts of Saaremaa.
As of 6:29 p.m. on Saturday, a total of 5,180 customers were without power due to 30 outages in Saaremaa, 892 customers without power due to 8 outages in Hiiumaa and another 8 without power due to an outage on the island of Muhu, according to real-time data being reported by Estonian network operator Elektrilevi.
How long the current situation will last is difficult to gauge, as it is currently continuing to freezing rain on the islands and new failures are cropping up as well, Elektrilevi control center unit lead Hardi Puusepp told ERR around midday.
"Our brigades have been working all night, and were joined in the morning by fresh brigades who are helping fix failures," Puusepp said. "We're trying to get the majority of failures fixed before the day is out. Some will likely remain through tomorrow too."
More than 30 centimeters of snow fell in Saaremaa overnight, with heavy snows beginning in Western Saaremaa on Friday night before spreading to cover the entire island by morning, ERR said. The weight of the snow has toppled trees onto roads on parts of the island.
Several main lines powering substations in Saaremaa have been downed at once by heavy ice and snow, making power switchovers more difficult, and repairs have likewise been made more difficult by impassable roads and downed trees, the Rescue Board's Western Rescue Center said in a press release on Saturday afternoon.
Saaremaa Municipality's crisis committee also convened on Saturday in order to monitor the situation as well as seek possible solutions for coping with current difficult conditions, as the forecast for Saturday night calls for more snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Avoid travel, prepare for further outages
Mobile communications in Saaremaa are currently disrupted around Mustjala, Karala and Kihelkonna. Should anyone in affected areas have to call emergency services, they can do so by removing their SIM card from their mobile phone or, if available, call from a landline instead. Kihelkonna Rescue Brigade is also staffed with an on-call rescuer who can call for help by radio, and open to those who need to charge their phones.
The Rescue Board is urging people to avoid traveling to Saaremaa and islanders to remain at home if possible- and avoid traveling around Mustjala, Karala and Kihelkonna. If critical travel to affected areas is necessary, the Rescue Board urges those driving to make sure they have enough fuel and take a fully-charged phone with them.
Those sheltering at home should prepare for continued or further possible power outages and road closures, including by fully charging their phones and power banks, stocking up on drinking water, food and motor fuel and making sure they have a flashlight, battery-operated radio and enough spare batteries for both.
The Rescue Board is also urging islanders not to leave pets outside without shelter as well as to check in on loved ones and neighbors who may be vulnerable and need help.
Power outages can be reported to Elektrilevi by calling 1343 or via their MARU app. Customers will be notified of known failures via MARU and SMS together with an estimate for how long repairs may take.
In the event of an electrical accident, however, customers are urged to call emergency services at 112 immediately.
Editor: Aili Vahtla