Unrelenting snow in Russia

  • People enjoy sledging down Chapel Hill in Pocklington; a far cry from conditions in Russia. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.

    ECMWF-modelled snow depth amounts across Europe, showing the recent UK snowfall in comparison to western Russia.

    A Global Snow and Ice Cover Map showing the extent of snow and ice on 18th January 2013. The map is derived from combined observations of METOP AVHRR, MSG SEVIRI, GOES Imager and DMSP SSMIS. Image from: http://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/smcd/emb/snow/HTML/multisensor_global_snow_ice.html

  • Unrelenting snow in Russia
    19.01.2013 16:20


    The snow currently lying over parts of the UK is a far cry from the snow accumulations over swathes of Russia.

    Much of Russia has been blanketed in a formidable layer of snow. Although Russia is normally well accustomed to large amounts of snow, this season’s snow events have been dubbed a “Snowpocalyse” by the Russia Times paper.

    Unrelenting snow has brought traffic chaos, with flight cancellations, road accidents, highway closures and traffic jams. Moscow has woken up to over 11 inches of snow this weekend, no doubt a factor in the 13 km long traffic jam along one of the capital’s main highways. The efforts of some 12,000 snow ploughs could do little to help.  Meanwhile, the south-west region of Northern Caucasus saw the equivalent of over two months of snow fall in only two days. The avalanche-prone region was a focus of activity from emergency workers, who used anti-aircraft guns to clear over-hanging snow from roadside mountains.

    Whilst the natural impulse of many people may be to embrace the ‘winter wonderland’ conditions, police in St. Petersburg did their best to thwart a huge snowball fight in a public park during the first weekend of the new year. Despite a vast number of children being involved, authorities were keen to dampen any festivities amid warnings that they would be violating laws against mass gatherings. At least one person was reportedly detained for damaging grass in the park.

    However, the snow has done more than simply cause traffic chaos and raise tension over snowball fights. Nearly 200 fatalities have been reported this season, due in part to the coldest December in decades. Many cities have been cut-off from the outside world thanks to the huge depths of snow. One such location is the northern city of Norilsk, which has seen snow accumulations of up to 10 feet, blocking off entire buildings as a result. Lethal icicles have also formed from buildings, posing a hazard to passers-by below. The city has recorded low temperatures of around -34C in recent nights; a few degrees below normal for the time of year.

    By: Laura Caldwell