Gallery: Storms leave tens of thousands of households without power

Tens of thousands of homes across Estonia were left without electricity as high winds lashed the country. South Estonia was most affected, as the weather service issued a level one storm warning, and the southern town of Võru was left completely cut off.

According to ERR's online news in Estonian, electricity grid company Elektriklevi said by 5.30 p.m. over 60,000 of its customers were without power, the highest figure for several years. While around 10,000 of these had their power restored within hours, still around 50,000 households were without power as at 11 p.m.

The weather service warning came as gusts with speeds of up to 30 meters/second (force 11 on the Beaufort scale) were recorded in western and southern Estonia. The warning covered Saaremaa, Pärnu, Viljandi, Valga, Tartu, Põlva and Võru Counties. Just after 4.30 p.m. several power lines operated by distribution company Elering were cut, leaving the town of 12,000 people without electricity.

"The worst situation was in Southern Estonia, where winds of over 30 meters/second have left us with a lot of issues to solve" said Jüri Klaassen, head of the Elektrilevi Control Center, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

Klaassen added that fallen trees and branches were hampering repair work.

Forecasting a return to normality depended on the region, Klaassen said; on Saaremaa, the company hopes normal service to be resumed by or on Monday, but for Pärnu the process could take at least a day longer and in some areas as long as a week. Power in Võru town was restored by around 11 p.m. on the Sunday.

Other disruption

As well as cutting off power supplies, the storm raised safety issues. While no serious incidents have been reported yet, authorities recommend people avoid driving in heavy winds and in the aftermath of the storm, due to debris on the roads. If a drive is essential, authorities recommend taking a full fuel tank and fully-charged mobile phone as well as driving with reduced speed.

Mobile phone outages were experienced in much of the affected region, according to provider Elisa. The company recommends removing the phone's sim card if needing to make an emergency call.

In addition to the level one storm warning, a level two warning was issued for Järva and Jõgeva Counties in central Estonia. No warnings have been issued for Tallinn, northern and eastern Estonia though authorities recommend vigilance and common sense.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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