Gulf of Riga frozen, shipping hampered

The Gulf of Riga hasn't completely frozen like this over in several years.

The Gulf of Riga hasn't completely frozen like this over in several years.

RIGA — In light of sustained temperatures well below zero, the entire Gulf of Riga has frozen over, with a surface of ice as thick as 50 cm in some places, according to Baltic Icebreaking Management.

The Gulf of Riga freezes over completely about 60 percent of winters, and this one is no exception. In recent winters the gulf had not frozen, but this is the coldest winter Latvia has experienced in 15 years.

On the Estonian coast access to the country’s large Western islands is being hampered by the ice and low water levels, with the ferry to Hiiumaa taking 10 hours instead of the usual 90 minutes. On the northern coast the ice is only in patches and the access routes to ports remain easily navigable, according to the Estonian Maritime Authority.

The Western Latvian and Lithuanian coasts are currently ice-free.

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