Finland’s Coldest Day Of Winter!

How cold is too cold for working outside, for school children's playtime, or letting your baby sleep in extreme temperatures?

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File picture of children playing in the snow / Credit: iStock

The coldest day of winter – so far – has arrived.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI says that although the forecast temperatures might not seem very low, the bitterly cold winds blowing in from Siberia will make it much worse.

On the bright side, most of Finland enjoys clear blue skies today, with only a chance of snow flurries in parts of Lapland and the Helsinki region.

“If we’re measuring the temperature, it will get even colder on Wednesday. But the wind will drop, and the spring sun will warm up during the daytime” says meteorologist Jari Tuovinen.

The coldest parts of Finland on Tuesday are in the south, and in Savo-Karelia along the eastern border. The temperature at Kajaani Airport this morning was measured at -27.1°C.

How To Cope Like A Finn

There’s no national lower limit to stop your outdoor work or school activities in Finland. That’s because the same temperature on the coast in Kemi can feel quite different far inland in places like Jyväskylä.

But in general, outdoor work is generally halted around -20°C, while machinery and cars might have a working limit of -25°C.

In the construction industry, cold weather working is decided on a site-by-site basis and outdoor work usually stops when the temperature drops between -15°C and -20°C.

In the forest industry, a generally agreed limit means work stops at -20°C.

Children: Outdoor Play

At Finnish schools, outdoor play in cold weather is usually decided at the discretion of teachers.

In some parts of the country, children stay indoors when the temperature hits -15°C but in other parts of Finland children are allowed outside until it gets as cold as -25°C.

Many Finnish parents still practice the tradition of letting babies sleep outside – warmly wrapped up – in cold weather. Medical staff say about -10°C is about the limit for keeping the baby outside, but some parents are comfortable even at -15°C.

Cold and dry air can affect a baby’s upper respiratory tract, so if the child is sick it is not recommended to let it sleep outside.

Health care experts say it’s important to properly line the bottom of the baby’s pram, and remember appropriate warm clothing if the child is going for an outside nap.

‘Beast From The East’

The cold weather front blowing all across Europe has been dubbed ‘The Beast From The East’ by some European media; and brought snow to the Baltics, Central Europe, even the Italian capital Rome experienced rare snowfall on Monday.

“We have a high pressure area over Finland, terrestrial easterly winds, cold air from
Siberia, mostly clear skies, and these are all components for very cold weather” explains Meteorologist Anniina Valtonen at the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI.

“The situation can stay like this for some time. The cold spell may last into early March” she cautions.

There’s a heavy dose of science to explain why we’re shivering in a Polar Vortex at the moment, which involves rapid warming in the stratosphere above the North Pole. Then, when the Polar Vortex weakens or splits in two, Finland’s normal westerly winds weaken as well; so we get very cold easterly winds picking up strength instead, bringing air directly from Siberia.