The frozen surface of the Baltic Sea might be too slippery a ride for the more nervous motorist but for people living on the islands off Estonia’s coast, ice roads are a lifeline.
Authorities have created three official routes this year – connecting Saaremaa and Hiiuumaa islands, Vormsi island and the mainland as well as the road across Haapsalu bay. Additional ‘non-official’ roads have been made by islanders.
Motorists travelling on ice need to be well aware of the risks. Road Masters are in charge of ensuring conditions are safe.
“The key rule is that your speed should be either between 10 and 20 kilometres per hour or 40 and 70 kilometres per hour – not in between,” said Road Master Ivo Muru. “Otherwise there will be vibrations that can break the ice.”
Fluctuations in the water levels of the Baltic Sea can create cracks
in the ice roads. Wooden tracks are used to bridge the gap.
Depending on the weather, Estonia’s ice roads can stay open until the middle of March.