Hotspots and Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Heavy snowstorm paralyzes Moscow

Over a thousand minor car accidents have taken place on Moscow streets in 24 hours

A strong and heavy snowstorm hit Moscow out of the blue yesterday. Snowfalls, hard frost and winter storms were considered the normal winter weather in Russia about ten years ago. Unusually warm winters, however, have already changed the general perception of the Russian winter. The average temperature in December and January is about zero degrees Centigrade. People start perceiving a sudden change in weather as something extraordinary, a natural disaster almost. The current fall of temperature in Moscow and in the Moscow region has become a bright example of it.

The temperature in the beginning of January was unusually warm in Moscow – five degrees above zero, which is typical winter weather in Europe. The situation changed all of a sudden overnight: a heavy snowfall started, and the temperature dropped to 15 degrees below zero. The weather change became more than just surprising for Muscovites.

The snowfall that started on Monday yesterday still continues at the moment. The traffic in Moscow has been paralyzed because of the windy weather and heavy snow. The number of snow-removing vehicles is enough to clean only the center of Moscow, whereas the city's outlying districts have been literally heaped up with snow. Spokesmen for the Moscow authorities say that the city's entire snow-fighting machinery has been put in effect to relieve Moscow roads and highways of snowdrifts. The efforts are obviously not enough to improve the situation: the snow blocks roads again in about 30 minutes.

Extreme winter weather has resulted in an outrageous increase of traffic accidents in Moscow: over a thousand minor car accidents have taken place on Moscow streets in 24 hours. The police do not think that the traffic situation in Moscow is critical because of the snowfall, although they strongly recommend drivers not to use their cars in such weather. A lot of Muscovites gave up the idea of driving indeed – they simply could not either uncover their cars from the snow or open their garages because of snowdrifts.

Weather forecasters say that the snowstorm in Moscow will continue for another day. Gusts of wind may reach 13-18 meters a second.