Winter has returned to Moscow after two weeks of a rare warm spell when the streets were clear of snow and buds began to appear on the trees.
Winter has returned to Moscow after two weeks of a rare warm spell when the streets were clear of snow and buds began to appear on the trees. But now the false spring has vanished, the temperature has dropped by almost 14 degrees centigrade and with it has come the familiar seasonal feature -- heavy snow.
SYNOPSIS: A few days ago the Kremlin stood free of snow, and Moscow appeared to be enjoying an early spring. Then the barometer dropped, and, in the course of 24 hours, the temperature fell from plus seven degrees Centigrade to minus seven degrees. Almost overnight the streets of Moscow took on their normal winter look-with icy roads and slow-moving traffic.
Soviet meteorologists had been puzzled by the warm weather, a phenomenon which occurs on average only twice a century. However, they were equally baffled by the sudden and dramatic drop in temperatures. Although variations in the country as a whole are extreme -- in winter, temperatures can fall to minus 70 degrees in northwest Siberia and in the summer can reach 50 degrees in Central Asia -- the sudden change in the capital itself is unprecedented.
For the eight million Muscovites the change in the weather has heralded the return of a typical winter. Over the next four or five months they can expect temperatures well below freezing with heavy snow-falls. This means the return of familiar winter sights to the streets of Moscow -- fur hats, long winter coats and, of course, snowploughs.