Winter storm Aapeli brings near-hurricane strength winds

No injuries reported so far in Åland, despite the islands taking the brunt of the storm.

Picture of Mariehamn in Åland after storm / Credit: Mariehamns stad FB

A major winter storm has hit Finland, with Åland one of the most affected areas.

Storm Aapeli brought winds of 32.5 metres per second, a new Finnish high.

“That is the highest wind speed that we have measured ever before at sea areas. The last time was in 1971 and it was 31 metres per second” says meteorologist Eveliina Tuominen at the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI.

Those wind speeds are close to hurricane strength 33 metres per second.

“It was really close, but not quite” says Tuominen.

The high winds also came with heavy overnight snow, up to 20cm in parts of central Finland.

Åland worst affected

The storm caused widespread problems in Åland.

For a while all the main roads were closed but in a press conference this morning officials said Åland’s highways had been reopened, however safety on smaller roads could not be guaranteed.

“Very many homes are still without electricity, and lots of trees have fallen on the roads. Our advice to people is to stay at home” says Ted Andersson from Åland Rescue Department.

“Power lines are damaged, and very many cars and house roofs are damaged in the wind, but there are not so far any injuries” Andersson tells News Now Finland.

Thousands of households are still without electricity, mostly outside of Mariehamn.

Ferries diverted from port

Due to the high winds, overnight ferry services didn’t stop at Mariehamn, and although the winds were strong, the direction wasn’t as bad as it could have been for ships.

“The ships leaving from Helsinki and Turku and Stockholm, traveling between Finland and Sweden, they didn’t stop at Åland last night, but that is a normal situation when it is tough winds, and it happens every now and then” says Christa Grönlund, Communications Manager at Viking Line.

“Of course when it is windy you can feel it when you travel, that’s for sure. The ferries are used to these kind of storms so they know what to do” she adds.