Powerful storm Aila brings destructive winds and heavy rains to Finland, over 90 000 homes left without power

Powerful storm Aila brings destructive winds and heavy rains to Finland, over 90 000 homes left without power

A powerful autumn storm named Aila swept through Finland's central and southwestern regions late Wednesday into Thursday, September 16 to 17, 2020, bringing winds of up to 125 km/h (77 mph), high waves up to 5.8 m (19 feet), and heavy rains up to 60 mm (2.3 inches) mainly in Kajaani -- equivalent to the area's average rain for the whole month. Ferry traffic was disrupted on the northern part of the Baltic Sea, material damage was reported, and more than 90 000 households were left without electricity.

The storm began battering Finland's west coast late Wednesday, toppling down trees and damaging properties with winds of up to 125 km/h (77 mph). More than 90 000 homes were left without power.

The Finnish Meteorologist Institute noted exceptionally high waves-- 4.3 m (14 feet) in Bothnian Bay, 5.5 m (18 feet) in the Bothnian Sea, and 5.8 m (19 feet) in Rauma. 

Ferry traffic was disrupted in the northern part of the Baltic Sea, prompting authorities to issue a warning for residents to stay indoors.

Winds intensified as the storm continued overnight into Thursday, lashing the central and southwestern regions. According to the nation's energy association, the storm cut off power for 59 725 consumers, with the largest power outages reported in Ostrobothnia.

Electrical power company Vaasan Sahkoverkko said it may take several days to fully restore electricity, while repairs in the network may take weeks.

The storm also brought heavy rains around Vaasa and Joensuu, with Kajaani receiving the most precipitation of up to 60 mm (2.3 inches), equivalent to the area's average September rain.

Rescue teams attended to more than 300 emergency cases, including toppled trees and felled electric wires.

"It’s getting calm now, and it’s a good thing. We had a little more than 300 cases, trees are falling on electric wires or on houses or roads, there were no major damages and no people were injured, just cutting trees and making clear roads," said Juha Salo from the Satakunta Rescue Department.

Mariehamn Rescue Department Chief Karl Nordlund added that although there were damages reported, they were only minor.

"We were expecting much worse winds than we got so we have only minor damages such as trees over roads. I think we’re up to something between 10 and 12 calls regarding falling trees and boats and so on. It’s really good."

As of Friday, September 18, the storm has weakened as it moves across northwest Russia, Estonia, and Latvia.

Featured image credit: Yle Tampere/Twitter

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