Winter is the longest season in Finland, lasting for about 100 days in southwestern Finland and 200 days in Lapland. Winter usually begins in mid-October in Lapland and during November in the rest of Finland, though not until December in the southwestern archipelago.
North of the Arctic Circle, part of winter is the period known as the "polar night" when the sun does not rise above the horizon at all. In the northernmost corner of Finland, the polar night lasts for 51 days. In southern Finland, the shortest day is about 6 hours long.
Permanent snow covers open grounds about two weeks after winter begins. The snow cover is deepest around mid-March, with an average of 60 to 90 cm of snow in eastern and northern Finland and 20 to 30 cm in southwestern Finland. The lakes freeze over in late November and early December. The ice is thickest in early April, at about 50 to 65 cm. In severe winters, the Baltic Sea may ice over almost completely, but in mild winters it remains open except for the far ends of the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland.
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