If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in Finland, the general advice is head north.
There hasn’t been a proper white Christmas for nearly 10 years in the south of the country and it’s unlikely to happen this year either.
Even though winter storm Aapo dumped some snow cover other south central, and central areas in the last few days, much of that snow will likely melt especially in Uusimaa long before Christmas comes.
According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI, the temperatures will stay mild across much of the country from now until Christmas, which means a grey or black festive season instead of picture-perfect snowy white.
“From the south, almost from North Africa, very warm air comes across us. Currently, there’s a low pressure area in the North Atlantic, which brings a lot of rains to Finland too” says FMI meteorologist Anniina Valtonen.
“Because of the warm air, precipitation will fall as rain in the south” she adds.
According to Valtonen, the line between snow and no-snow goes across Central Finland from Jyväskylä to Joensuu – although the further north you travel, the more snow there will be.
“If you want a white Christmas, you have to go north of Joensuu and Jyväskylä. The west coast won’t do either, there’s zero centimetres of snow currently. It’s only above Ylivieska where you can expect the white Christmas in the west” she tells News Now Finland.
Southern winters turning more mild
Having a grey Christmas is nothing new for capital region residents.
According to meteorologist Mika Rantanen at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research INAR, the last time that capital city citizens could enjoy a proper snowy white Christmas was nearly ten years ago.
“The last genuinely snowy Christmas in Helsinki was in 2010. We have archives going back until 1911 and according to those records, 2010 was the was the fifth snowiest so far. At that time there was almost half a metre of snow measured in Helsinki” he explains.
“In 1915 it was a very cold and snowy winter with 63 centimetres of snow and temperatures of about -24°C measured on Christmas Eve” says Rantanen.
Although Rantanen concedes that white Christmases in the south of Finland are less common these days than they used to be, it’s still impossible to draw any conclusion why that’s the case.
“It depends on so many factors. For example, the trend caused by climate change is difficult to detect based on one day in a calendar, as natural fluctuations of the weather is also great in Finland. There may be some trend but if we were to examine it more closely we would need more statistics” he says.
Rantanen says however that it’s evident that snow cover in southern Finland has generally reduced over the years, especially at the early and later stages of winter.
“There’s some research been made on changes in snow cover and a clear trend is that snow cover has decreased in the early and later winter times” he says.
“I believe that climate change is the biggest factor in this phenomenon. Of course there are other things affecting it too, like natural weather changes, but climate change is one of the biggest factors even if it doesn’t explain everything” says Rantanen.
More tourists search for snow in northern Finland
While Christmas most likely stays bare and dark during the holiday season in the south, in the north of the country it’s the complete opposite situation.
In Sodankylä, in the hearth of Lapland, 83 centimetres of snow was measured, a new December record.
And as snow levels break records, so do tourists.
During the last month Lapland airports counted almost 20 times the number of passengers than during summer months – and December’s total looks to be higher still.
“In Kittilä, during the most active period in December, there are 3000 passengers filing through the airport every hour. By comparison the airport has the same number of passengers during the entire month of June” says Kimmo Liukkonen, manager of Kittilä Airport.
“During the quieter summer stretch there is only one flight a day. Meanwhile in December there can be almost 30 flights daily” he adds.
According to Katarina Wakonen from Visit Finland, Lapland tourism is anticipated to grown up to 10% compared to previous winter.
“This is based on current flight bookings” she says.
“We expect the winter in Lapland to appeal to tourists at the moment. In addition to Christmas, Lapland has many aspects that appeal to tourists, such as the Northern Lights or Finnish snow.”