A major snowstorm has brought Moscow to a standstill, disrupting road and air travel in a city that’s no stranger to harsh wintry weather.
The Associated Press reports that over 8 inches (27 cm) of snow fell in the Russian capital in the past 24 hours. That’s half of the city’s typical November snowfall. Moscow’s city hall has called it the biggest November snowstorm in half a century, and local forecasters expect the snow to continue into Friday.
European media outlets have said Moscow could see snow totals of up to 22” (55 cm) by the end of this week.
In the wake of massive traffic jams, authorities in Moscow are encouraging residents to stay off the roads and use public transportation. Relief agencies are also distributing warm clothes and hot tea to the city’s homeless after last year’s frigid winter claimed 100 lives in the Russian metropolis. High temperatures remained 3-4 degrees below freezing on Thursday, with only a slight warm-up forecast through the start of the weekend.
Wintry conditions have also extended westward into central Europe. In central and southern Germany, icy road conditions led to multiple accidents, including one death. Spiegel Online reports more than 10” (27 cm) of fresh snow fell atop the Feldberg in the Black Forest. Freezing temperatures and heavy snow also affected the Swiss and Austrian Alps – though such conditions are hardly unusual there for this time of year.
This week’s winter onset comes after much of central Europe experienced an otherwise warm November. The German National Weather Service reports that temperatures this month have averaged about 1.5 degrees (F) above normal.
Responsible for the winter conditions is low pressure system “Heike,” which carried Mediterranean moisture into cold air centered over Eastern Europe.
Video: Moscow experienced its heaviest November snowfall in 50 years on Thursday, disrupting flights in and out of the Russian capital and bringing havoc to the streets.
See below for photos of snow across Russia and Germany: