On the 10th of March 2021, a friend and I went hiking in Sipoonkorpi National Park. Despite it already being March, it was a very cold day with a minimum temperature well under -15°C and a maximum temperature around -9°C. There also was a lot of wind, which caused the wind chill temperature to be around -20°C in the morning. Despite the cold, it was an extremely beautiful day, not in the last place thanks to a snow storm that dropped a fresh layer of snow the day before!
The days before the snow storm of the 9th of March, the temperature was well below freezing and every now and then a snow shower passed over the area. Nevertheless, one could still see that the snow cover was getting old and the end of winter was nearing. However, before spring would come, the winter would conquer Finland once more.
The snow storm and cold weather episode in March
Before I share my experiences in Sipoonkorpi National Park, I will discuss the meteorological circumstances that lead to the snowfall and the cold weather. If you just want to read about my experiences in the park, skip to the header A beautiful winter’s morning in March.
In the days leading up to the snow storm, a small but yet intense low pressure system moved from the Norwegian Sea over the Scandinavian Mountains towards the Baltic Sea. While this happened, a very cold airmass was located over (north)western Russia, partly penetrating towards Scandinavia.
As the low-pressure system moved just south of Finland, a quite strong high pressure system build up over Finland. The track of the low pressure system was more or less ideal to have the fronts drag over the Helsinki region (and other regions in Finland). The building high pressure system lead to an increased pressure gradient and thus increasingly strong winds.
After the low pressure system dropped a decent amount of snow and moved further south, the very cold airmass was partially dragged into Scandinavia by a northeasterly flow. Thanks to the high pressure system, the skies cleared up and the winds calmed down. Together with a very cold airmass now present in Finland, the circumstances were perfect to let the temperature plummet in the night of the 9th to the 10th of March.
A beautiful winter’s morning in March
When I woke up on the 10th of March and looked out of my bedroom window, I saw one of the most beautiful views since I lived in this apartment. A fresh snow cover was lit up by the brightly shining sun and the sky was as blue as it can get. Although the sun might have made you presume that the temperature would be quite comfortable, a thick layer of clothes was needed to keep you warm. The very low temperatures in combination with a decent breeze caused wind chill temperatures around -20 degrees.
A white highway towards Sipoonkorpi National Park
The drive to Sipoonkorpi was interesting, to say the least. When we entered the highway, we were surprised to see that the highway was still almost completely white. The compressed snow and ice on the road called for a lot of caution while driving, but I personally thought it was a cool drive and a beautiful view.
Hiking during freezing cold winter’s day in Sipoonkorpi in springtime
After a drive of about 30 minutes, we arrived in Sipoonkorpi. In order to park we had to do some snow shovelling, since the fresh snow was over 15 cm deep in the parking spots. We parked at the Knuters parking area (see the map below). From there we walked into the forest. The temperature was still well under -10 degrees Celsius, but the trees – that were beautifully covered in a big layer of snow – protected us from the wind.
Through the forest we walked to Storträsk, where we warmed up our lunch on the grill. This was a magnificent, but freezing cold lunch spot. Next to the – of course, frozen and snow-covered – small lake, we had no protection from the wind at all. The short while we had to take off our mittens to prepare our food were enough to make them senseless due to the cold. The view over the lake can be seen in the video at the beginning of this blog.
After lunch, we continued to Flatberget, Kalkungsvägen and to the next spot to have some food, Kalkkiruukki. Especially on Flatberget and Högberget, the views were quite nice. But of course the whole forest was absolutely stunning in this snowy scene. I have been back for hiking in Sipoonkorpi several times after this day, and despite it being pretty, I hasn’t been as beautiful as it was during this day.
At the end of the afternoon, we were back at the parking spot, after hiking in the park for about 15 km, which was sometimes quite tough (but enjoyable!) in the deep snow. This day was high on my list of most beautiful winter days ever, even though it was already March. I can highly recommend visiting and hiking in Sipoonkorpi, especially the day after a snowstorm.