Tuhala 'witch's well' already overflowing

Tuhala witches' well, Tuesday, January 17, 2023.
Tuhala witches' well, Tuesday, January 17, 2023. Source: ERR

A "witch's well" near Tallinn has already started overflowing, comparatively early in the year and the result of the recent mild conditions.

Witch's wells, man-made constructions which alleviate groundwater flooding in spring-time, usually erupt any time from February to April, the so-called "fifth season" in Estonia, though the well at Tuhala, Harju County, has already done so, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday

Rising meltwater in January is not completely rare, however, Jana Põldnurk, head of the Environment Agency's (Keskkonnaagentuur) hydrology department told AK.

She said: "This actually last happened two years ago, in 2020, when the winter was relatively short - I think there were only five days of actual climatic winter that time - and during that winter, water flowed freely through the rivers, and levels were very high.

"Before that it happened 2014-2015, consecutive years when the first floods also came in January. Certainly the people of Pärnu will remember 2005, when a major sea storm also led to high water levels inland," Põldnurk went on.

"This year, what actually happened was that some pretty decent snowfall was followed by temperatures above zero, and rain came which further helped to melt the snow especially quickly, which is why we are now seeing the first significant water levels of the year," she added.

Witch's wells like Tuhala (pictured) are annual draws for interested spectators, and this year is no exception, though the peak levels are yet to come, Põldnurk went on.

Other witch's wells currently springing include the one at Soomaa, while the Kasari River in western Estonia is also up to its banks (link in Estonian), AK reported.

However, levels are starting to drop, and colder weather next week may freeze over water still trapped on the surface.

Witch's wells remove excess floodwater from farmland or, in the case of some constructions in Ida-Viru County, from abandoned oil shale mines.

The original AK slot (in Estonian) is here.

More severe flooding in Latvia, which is criss-crossed with considerably larger river systems than is Estonia, most recently affected the city of Jekabpils, in the south of the country.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merli Nael

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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