Storms buffet Estonia, Rescue Board requests public stay home

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Stormy conditions with gusts in excess of 30 meters per second buffeted Estonia over the weekend, leading to rising sea levels, downed trees and an estimated 50,000 households without power at the peak of the storm.

The Rescue Board (Päästeamet) said that responders had to make over 1,500 trips nationwide, in response to hazards caused by the storm. By Sunday morning, over 700 cases of trees falling on power lines or roads had been registered.

Meelis Mesi, the board's chief operations officer for the entire country, said that a storm of this duration, hitting the entire country, has not been seen for several decades.

The winds, which picked up Friday and overnight into Saturday finally subsided late Sunday evening.

Mihkel Härm, head of DSO Elektrilevi told ERR around 3:30 p.m. Sunday that new outages were still being reported as the winds had not died down.

"Two shifts of teams have been working on restoring power since Friday, while new outages are being reported as the storm is still raging. Making things worse is that rescuers cannot use lifts to fix power lines because of strong winds," Härm said, adding that Elektrilevi currently has 82 teams out there. "What we have achieved is that power has been restored everywhere where its absence would put human lives at risk," he said.

The head of the DSO also said that the company is working on restoring power to all kindergartens by Monday morning.

"Several kindergartens are without power in different parts of Estonia. We will use generators where necessary. Once we are done with kindergartens, we will move on to schools," Härm said.

To the North, in Finland, around 30,000 households in the southeast of the country alone were without power as of Saturday morning, Yle reports. Latvia, too, was hit by storms, with the country's authorities issuing danger warnings also, LSM reports.

As is often the case with regular autumn storms, falling branches and trees damage power lines; as noted the duration, intensity and area affected by this storm is exceptional.

Elektrilevi urged all residents to stay away from downed power lines, as they present a life-threatening hazard.

One case of a fallen tree was found blocking traffic on Narva mnt in the Kadriorg district of Tallinn at around 5 p.m. Saturday (see gallery) leading to routes 1 and 3 being diverted to Suur-Paala.

The tree had fallen on a car, whose driver was uninjured in the incident, eye-witnesses said.

The sea level in Tallinn had by Saturday mid-morning exceeded the critical limit in Pirita (see gallery below), East of the city center, and is around a meter over the average level, though the levee had not broken at that point.

Sea level figures of 110-130cm above average were reported.

As reported by ERR News, high winds, "intensive rain," and thunder were forecast across Estonia from Friday evening and over the weekend, the Environment Agency (Keskonnaamet) said. A Level 2 ("dangerous weather") warning was also issued, and remains in place.

The strong northwesterlies reached gusts in excess of 30 m/s (Force 11 on the Beaufort Scale), while the general windspeeds are reported at 15-20 m/s (Force 7-8).

Hiiumaa ferry connection disrupted, some departures to Helsinki cancelled

Due to the strong wind, TS Laevad halted shipping between the mainland and the island of Hiiumaa on Saturday, from 2:30 p.m.

Saturday departures were also canceled by shipping lines Viking Line and Eckerö on the Tallinn-Helsinki route.

Estonian carrier Tallink said its services remained sailing.

Up-to-date weather information can be viewed on the agency's website in English, Russian, and Estonian here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

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