Europe

Russians grumbled over last year’s mild winter. Now Moscow has a ‘snow apocalyse.’

MOSCOW — The snow started falling late Thursday, sticking to car windshields and hiding walking paths. By Friday morning, apartment windows had a thick white rim at the bottom. It kept snowing. On Saturday, whole park benches were under a snow depth of 56 centimeters, or 22 inches.

By the time it was over on Sunday, parked cars were buried under heaps of snow.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Pedestrians in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow on Feb. 13.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Oleg, 75, says he can't remember snow masses like this in Moscow.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A taxi got stuck in the snow in Moscow on Feb. 13. A group of men helped shovel it out.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

People next to Red Square in Moscow.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Moscow is, of course, no stranger to snow squalls and drifts. There was already some snow on the ground when the latest storm started. But the weekend’s wintry blast was noteworthy even for the Russian capital. Around 75 percent of the average February snowfall came down in little more than a day on Saturday, according to the Russian weather service Fobos.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A year ago, as Moscow experienced its warmest winter in nearly 200 years of record keeping, Russians longed for the white covering that often makes January and February’s dark days appear brighter.

And Moscow normally doesn’t miss a beat with snow. This wallop, however, was different. More than 100 flights were delayed or canceled in Moscow’s three main airports.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A model of St. Basil's Cathedral covered with snow.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Passengers are dusted with snow in Moscow's city center on Feb. 13.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A boy plays in the snow next to Red Square on Feb. 13.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

“It’s a real snowstorm, a snow Armageddon, a snow apocalypse. This is not a practice alert, but a combat alert,” Fobos’s Evgeny Tishkovets told the state-run RIA news agency before the snowfall even began.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Moscow’s deputy mayor, Pyotr Biryukov, announced that about 60,000 road workers, janitors, roofers — along with 13,500 units of equipment — were tasked with removing the snow. That included snow-eaters: one-manned vehicles that shovel snow onto a conveyor belt that stretches back to a separate truck collecting it.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Snow clearing at Red Square.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Workers for a tourist company advertise at Red Square.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

People clear a roof in the city center.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Roof cleaning in the city center.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Some residents decided to traverse downtown on skies. Dogs that waded through fluffy snow piles looked as though they were lost in a field of tall corn stalks. Businesses stayed open and fruitlessly attempted to keep their doorways clean as customers walked in with sopping boots.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

People sled in the Moscow suburbs on Feb. 14.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A person covered by snow in Moscow on Feb. 14.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A frozen river in Moscow.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

People wait until the ice skating rink is cleared from snow at Red Square.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

The real cleanup effort was saved for Sunday. Neighbors met outside with shovels, joining the city cleaners. More snow is expected Tuesday.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

A snow scene in the suburbs.

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Nanna Heitmann/MAGNUM PHOTOS