Early January storm disrupts travel, causes power outages

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The Estonian Weather Service on Wednesday issued a Level 2 storm warning for the the country’s western and island counties which by afternoon spread to include its northern coastal counties as well. High winds and near whiteout conditions resulted in disruptions to ferry and even air travel and left thousands of households without power.

As of 9:20 EET on Thursday, a total of over 1,380 households were still without power, according to a live map on the homepge of system operator Elektrilevi.

As of Wednesday evening, all 50 Elektrilevi crews were out working to restore power, and the company hopes to have power restored to all of its customers by Friday at the latest. At the storm’s peak earlier in the day, more than 9,000 customers had been without power.

A downed tree on Narva Highway in Tallinn’s Kadriorg District, meanwhile, affected both tram and vehicular traffic for hours on Wednesday afternoon, and the major artery was closed to traffic between the Methodist church and the Russalka Memorial.

Ferry traffic to some Western Estonian islands also ground to a complete halt on Wednesday, but as of Thursday morning is operating according to its regular schedules on both the Rohuküla-Heltermaa and Virtsu-Kuivastu routes connecting Saaremaa and Hiiumaa to the mainland.

Air travel to and from Tallinn Airport was heavily affected by the storm, leading to multiple delays and even cancellations. An SAS flight from Copenhagen to Tallinn, for example, was forced to return to Copenhagen after circling near the Estonian capital for some time but ultimately being unable to land.

Storm system moves east, but new system to follow

By Thursday, the low pressure system to bring the dangerous storm to Estonia’s coastal regions will have moved east toward Russia and Belarus, with eastern parts of the country seeing precipitation as skies to the west begin to clear. Winds out of the north will continue to gust up to 12 m/s, or 18 m/s in coastal regions, dying down by evening, with temperatures remaining in the range of -3 to -8.

A new cyclone is set to arrive by Friday morning, however, with precipitation to switch over to rain in Western Estonia, causing icy conditions, while remaining below zero to the east.

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