Tags: russia | moscow | winter

Global Warming? Not in Moscow

Saturday, 13 Dec 2008 05:07 PM

By Phil Brennan

While Moscow basks in a snowless December and some meteorologists predict that the traditional Russian winter with snow and severe frost is gone forever, cities in the U.S. where snowfall is very rare are getting slammed with the white stuff.

According to the newspaper Pravda, Moscow is experiencing an unprecedented deficit of snow. Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is wondering where all the snow has gone, noting philosophically that the city will get snow "When God gives some."

Accustomed to having a blanket of snow that ordinarily covers the vast Russian territory in October, Pravda noted that it would ordinarily start snowing in Moscow in October or November. This year, however, Pravda wrote that there "is not even a snowflake in the middle of December.

"There were several humble snowy attempts made, but one will not see even a small pile of snow in Moscow’s streets today," the newspaper reported, adding that "December temperatures in Moscow were higher than normal, with December 3rd and 4th registering the warmest winter days in 130 years of meteorological observations."

That's not to say the snowless weather has been balmy, with the usual "chilly winter cold, the blue sky and the bright sunshine" [replaced] with thick gray clouds hanging very low above the city, Pravda noted. "There is mud everywhere: mud on the ground, mud in the air, even the sky seems to be very dirty. Muscovites dream about the sun as they get showers in December."

Many Russians are complaining of "depressions against such a gray winter background. About 65,000 Muscovites suffer from cold[s] since viruses live well under warm-weather conditions."

Even the bears in Moscow's zoo refuse to hibernate, and the city's power stations are suffering huge losses because they only get paid for the heat that they produce and sell to consumers. Pravda said that unnamed meteorologists predict that Moscow will most likely never again see the true Russian winter anymore.

But not all of Russia is avoiding the usual Russian winter. On Dec. 8, Kevin Martin of the Ontario Weather Service reported that temperatures in Siberia would be a super-frigid 81 degrees below zero this week.

While snowfall may be giving Moscow a pass, some areas in the U.S. have shivered in icy weather. A vicious ice storm socked New England and upstate New York, knocking out power to more than 1 million customers and forcing the governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to declare states of emergency, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune.

On Dec. 11, New Orleans was hit by the earliest snow ever recorded for the Big Easy. According to forecasters since 1850, snow has fallen in "measurable amounts," rather than traces, in the city just 17 times, according to the Times-Picayune.

And in Beaumont, Texas, on the same day, an upper-level storm system dumped as much as 2 inches of snow on some parts of Southeast Texas, causing icy roads and power outages. Four bridges in Port Arthur were closed due to ice.

In Houston, air travelers were delayed while workers at the city's two major airports deiced planes.

"Beaumont has had 2 inches of snow, and that's the highest snowfall ever recorded in the month of December," according to Sam Shamburger, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It is the earliest snowfall ever recorded in Beaumont. The previous record for the earliest measurable snowfall was Dec. 22, 1989."

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