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Blizzard conditions lead to lengthy Narva highway traffic jam Monday night

Overnight snowstorms brought disruption to road traffic at various locations in Estonia, even in Tallinn, where some roads were almost impassable early in the morning.

A notorious black-spot on the Tallinn-Narva highway (Tallinna-Narva maantee) in Lääne-Viru County also saw delays, with a traffic jam of several kilometers at one point, though the way was cleared to traffic before midnight Monday.

The Transport Board (Transpordiamet) requests motorists allow adequate journey times before driving – ie. a longer journey time should be factored in than during normal weather conditions – and to maintain a lengthy distance behind other vehicles, as blizzard conditions and even regular snowfall can significantly impair visibility just at a time when road conditions make for longer braking times, worsened grip etc.

The village of Padaoru in Lääne-Viru County was the site of a traffic jam due to snowy conditions a decade ago; the Rescue Board (Päästemet) declared the situation Monday night as comparable, after the road was closed for over two hours due to high winds and a build up of snow.

Vehicles started the be reported as snowbound at the location, on the 123rd kilometer of the Tallinn-Narva highway, from a little after 9.20 p.m. Monday, and the initial figure of half-a-dozen stranded cars had grown to a "significantly higher" number by 10 p.m.

The Rescue Board stated that this spot of highway should certainly be avoided; by 10.40 p.m. a column of stationary cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles "several kilometers long" was observed (see gallery).

However, after snow-clearing equipment was pressed into service, the stretch of road was reopened, shortly before midnight, though maintenance work continued through the night to keep it open.

Other stretches of the same highway, and of other roads, were also temporarily closed overnight and into the small hours of Tuesday, for instance at Paate, near Kohtla-Järve in Ida-Viru County.

On Tuesday morning, snowy conditions with strong winds will remain in Northern and Central Estonia in particular, with some smaller roads likely impassable in places, and fallen trees another potential hazard.

A snowy Tartu mnt in central Tallinn Tuesday morning. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The day is set to remain overcast, with snowfall particularly in the North, and strong winds in coastal areas.

Daytime temperatures Tuesday are forecast at -5 to -1 degree celsius, slightly milder than those seen Monday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming, Rene Kundla, Mirjam Mäekivi

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