Wednesday, 16 January 2013

No Blizzard Wizard as Ice Queen descends on drivers

Snow has brought the capital to a standstill, with accidents and tailbacks dotting the main roads around the centre. Where might this be? London? Paris? No in fact it’s Moscow. Yes it happens here too.

It’s not all the Moscow authorities fault. There has been a lot of snow over the day with more to follow. November is usually a snowy month in Russia. They’ve received half as much as that in the past 48 hours. However Russia’s meteorological service can’t even provide an estimate of how much snow has fallen! They say they only provide figures every morning and wouldn’t even try to predict how much might have fallen by then.

The authorites have only just got round it seems, after all these years, to testing the cocktail of chemicals they spray to de-ice the roads. Some of the chemicals may be dangerous. However the tests will only be conducted after the contracts to supply them have been concluded, according to a report from Russian newspaper Isvestia. Some experts think that the tests themselves aren’t the problem but instead the low standards for safety of chemicals with the result that 300 tonnes of harmful pollutants may be being spread on Moscow’s roads.

The accidents include a car that lost control and hit a bus stop wounding four. Accidents have reportedly increased by 20% and despite 12,000 snowplows (they’re not totally unprepared) trying to clear the roads traffic police are advising Muscovites to stay away from the city centre.

The temperatures are just right for large scale snowfall at about -8 celcius. Although they're dropping by the weekend which should stop it the worst day is predicted for Thursday 17th of January. Freezing rain and forming ice are predicted to make both pavements and roads dangerous.

Spare a thought for Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East though as a Pacific cyclone is bearing down threatening huge snowfall on land and storms at sea.

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