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Tallinn's Laagna Tee road, one of the affected thoroughfares

Tallinn’s streets are melting, the authorities sprinkle sand on them

Tallinn’s streets are melting, the authorities sprinkle sand on them

It turns out spraying water would be extremely impracticable and wasteful due to fast evaporation

Tallinn’s municipal website has reported that the heat wave pouring over the city has been so bad that the pavement on some of its busiest streets has started melting. The surface temperature of the roads has gone above 50 degrees Celsius, which has caused the bitumen to rise to the top threatening the integrity of the pavement.

As a response measure, the relevant authorities have resorted to a substance more commonly used in the icy throes of winter in order to prevent slippery roads – sand. The latter has been sprinkled on Paljassaare tee and Kauba, Rapla, Saku and Maleva streets, as well as the connecting road of Lubja and Laagna tee and Silikalsiidi Street.

Tropical nights for Tallinn

The capital of Estonian can basically be considered a Nordic city given its latitude and the local people are more used to dealing with extreme winter chills and snowfalls rather than the debilitating effects of summer.

Yet, the new reality is that the Tallinn Environmental and Public Utilities Board now has to constantly monitor the condition of roads and, if necessary, sprinkle sand to alleviate the situation.

"Hot temperatures have a dangerous effect not only on human and animal health, but also on the roads. We are working to alleviate the overheating of the roads, but I still recommend drivers to be especially careful about the road surface in order to avoid traffic accidents," said Vladimir Svet, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn.

As long as the hot weather lasts, the melting sections will continue to be covered with bulk material. Watering the streets to cool the roads would not be practical, as the water evaporates from the hot asphalt in 10 minutes and there is practically no cooling effect at all. What’s more, the heavy irrigation cars can damage the pavements.

On 26 June, Tallinn also experienced its first so-called ‘tropical night’ for the year, meaning a night when the temperatures did not descend below 20 degrees Celsius. The Estonian capital doesn’t experience ‘tropical nights’ every summer, but this year they have started unusually early – in other years they’ve occurred in July and August only.

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