First Snowfall

The park at Donskoi Posad where we spent many happy moments.

ON THIS DAY 5 years ago (14 October 2007) the first snow fell in Moscow. In the three years that I lived in the Russian capital, the first snow was always in October (and didn’t come again until late November or even December).

The Moscow Times reported the following day “… the sudden snowfall created havoc and city traffic police counted 37 major accidents and around 1,500 minor accidents.”

It didn’t bother us that Sunday as we were enjoying a feast of Malaysian food (and Kamchatka crabs too!) at the Hari Raya open house hosted by Kak Min and Pak Yusof in their warm and cosy home. We didn’t even need to travel on the road; we just took the elevator from our 17th floor to the fifth floor where they stayed.

Enjoying the warm hospitality of Kak Min and Pak Yusof, with good food and good company.

On Tuesday, it snowed again and this time, The Moscow Times (Wed,17 October 2007) reported that “Snowfall snarls city traffic, shuts off village electricity… an average of 4 cm of wet snow fell across the city Tuesday with the hardest hit area being the northern Volokolomskaya district which received 19 cm.” However, the cold snap didn’t last, nor did the snow, as the temperature reportedly rose to 6 degrees the next day and the snow eventually melted.

Pictures on 16 October 2007 taken from my apartment showed a mere dust of snow on the ground (left), but over a few hours, it accumulated on my balcony ledge (right).

I will definitely remember the first time in snowed in Moscow in our first year there – 26 October 2005.

Pictures of the park taken from my apartment on 26 October 2005 (left) and just six days earlier on 20 October 2005 (right).

As soon as daughter returned from school that afternoon, I took her down to the park where she built a little snowman and tried to make a snow angel on the ground. However, it rained that evening and washed away the snow.

Daughter tried to create “friends” to play with – a snowman and a snow angel.

It didn’t snow again till the early morning of 8 December 2005. Once again, I vividly recall that day as we had just moved the last items from our temporary apartment back to our own place that went through renovation works for more than four months (we were promised two months, and that’s another story!). It was well past midnight when I looked out of the window and saw the flaky white stuff fall. You can’t imagine my relief…

Since the first snowfall, I was desperate for snow again. SERIOUSLY desperate. I had convinced my sister to pick Moscow over Tokyo for the snow experience (they had only experienced artificial snow in Korea before this). If it can snow as early as October, I guaranteed my sister there would be abundance by December when they visit. Snow, after all, is the staple of Russian winters.

Imagine my horror when there was not a slightest sign of flurries after it first snowed on 26 October. It FINALLY came on 8 December, the very day my mom, sister and her family arrived! During their 10-day visit, ample snow fell to give them a real snowy winter experience. (In fact during that winter, the date 19 January 2006 was reportedly the coldest day in 2006 with the Artic temperature of -30 degrees Celsius.)

By 30 October 2006, we had our first snowfall again. There were flurries since the night before and by morning, snow had blanketed the ground. I went down to the park to take some photos with friends and later was invited to neighbour Kathrin’s home for some hot soup.

From the cold into Kathrin’s warm kitchen. Here her daughter Carolin tried on the dresses I sewed for her birthday.

However, by December of 2006, once again Moscow threatened to be snowless. I recorded flurries on 6 December and 18 December, and the fact that “7 December was the warmest recorded in history at 7.5 degrees Celsius beating the previous record of 6.6 degrees Celsius set in 1898”. The lack of snow was a nightmare for ski resorts that relied on the white stuff for their business! It finally came on 23 December, much to everyone’s relief; ours as well, as the snowmobile and snow sled were idle far too long.

Such are the warm memories of my cold winters in Moscow (though my earliest fond memories of snow, was staying on a farm in Scotland in the winter of 1995).

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