Thousands still affected by summer storm Päivö
The effects of summer storm Päivö, which brought heavy rain, high winds and thunderstorms to many parts of the country on Tuesday, are still being felt this morning. Overnight the worst of the storm moved from Yläa-Savo to North Karelia and towards Kainuu with gusts in Liperi reaching 26.9 metres per second. Power companies said more than 60,000 customers were left without power on Tuesday evening, as services were restored in some areas overnight. Power outages also affected train transport and VR says intercity services between Oulu and Helsinki; Pendolino services between Kajaani and Helsinki, and Karjaa and Helsinki are delayed because of track problems. Local train services between Nurmes and Joensuu are also affected by track disruptions. Trains between Suonenjoki and Lapinlahti are replaced with a bus service this morning due to power outages caused by the storm. Passengers are asked to prepare for delays, and check with VR’s website to see the latest disruptions.
Air Force quietly replaces swastika insignia
The Finnish Air Force has quietly retired the swastika on one of its official insignia, in an apparent effort to bring an end to criticism over the use of the symbol. The Air Force’s Headquarters badge, which contained the swastika, has been progressively replaced since 2017 by the more general Air Force insignia which has a golden eagle at the centre of its design. Professor Teivo Teivainen, who has written extensively about the continued use of the swastika by the military, says he had already noticed the controversial emblem’s lower profile on the Air Force’s website. “The reform has been done with minimal noise. To the best of my knowledge, no press releases or other information have been deemed necessary” Teivainen writes. The use of the swastika by the Finnish Air Force Command dates back to 1918 but has become increasingly difficult to justify, especially in an international context, in recent years. Read more at our story here.
Poll: Race tightening in potential presidential match-up
A new poll in Rural Future newspaper finds Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) still with the most support to become Finland’s next president, despite a drop in popularity. In February Haavisto was polling at 18% popularity but now the latest poll finds him with 12% support after a series of controversies over his handling of the al-Hol refugee crisis and management style at the Foreign Ministry. Haavisto has twice run the race for president, finishing second to Sauli Niinistö both times. The new poll finds the popularity of the Centre Party’s Olli Rehn holding steady in second place at 11%. Rehn is the current Governor of the Bank of Finland. Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho sees his popularity fall from 9% to 6% in the new poll while Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) is on 10% support. The next presidential election isn’t scheduled to be held until early 2024, with parties traditionally announcing their candidates the year before.
Finland’s largest summer terrace opens
It’s opening day for Finland’s biggest summer terrace as Senate Square in Helsinki is transformed into an outdoor urban garden. The idea is to attract people to the heart of the capital city, and help local businesses replace some of the revenue they’re losing through lack of international tourists. “It’s going to be a really nice set up of restaurants, cafes and bars. We’re going to have 16 restaurants and cafes, and as a starting point we’re going to have 480 seats” explains Peggy Bauer the manager from Tori Quarters who is putting the Senate Square event together. The huge space is also following social distancing rules, with flower planters dividing up the square in a grid pattern to try and keep different groups apart. There’s also extra hand washing points to encourage good hand hygiene. Read more at our original story here.
Veikkausliiga top flight football kicks off today
The top flight of Finnish men’s football is back on again today, after a delayed start due to the coronavirus epidemic. There will be 32 Veikkausliiga games in July as the league tries to make up for the lost weeks. Tonight five matches will be played with reigning champions Kuopio Palloseura taking on HIFK in Helsinki; while perennial power house HJK are also playing away in Lahti. Although coronavirus restrictions have been eased somewhat there are still special arrangements in place at football grounds for the matches, which are team and stadium specific. The Finnish Football Association is urging fans to look for more detailed information on each club’s website.
Wednesday morning weather
The strong storm winds of the last 24 hours are already abating this morning, but there is still widespread rain in northern parts of the country. In central and southern areas there are still scattered rain showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures this morning are on the cool side in Lapland ranging from +5°C in the northwest to +12°C in the southern part of the region. The rest of the country starts the day around +14°C with sunshine behind the clouds, and still a strong wind blowing in from the sea in coastal areas.