Snowstorm in DC

I ADMIT – I am obsessed with snow! Only because I’ve been blessed with so many warm memories of the cold stuff 🙂

And when it snows in DC, it is something to be rejoiced (for me, that is; but certainly not for the authorities who had to deal with the inconveniences). After all, snow is not a common occurrence (as in Russia). During the three years we were there, I read that it was a constant concern every December if Washingtonians were getting a white Christmas.

On 25th January 2000 when a sudden snowstorm blew over Washington DC, a winter storm warning was issued. It snowed throughout the day and by evening gusty wind had dumped between 8”-20” of snow in the Washington DC area and its vicinity. Federal holiday was declared earlier, shutting down schools and offices for the day as well as the next day.

Coincidentally, hubby had taken the day off to accompany me to my gynae visit, which was inevitably postponed. We ended up being imprisoned in our little apartment. The next morning, we woke up to a huge pile of ankle-deep snow on our balcony. We took the opportunity to venture into the city centre which was blanketed in snow!

These pictures were taken on 26th January 2000.

Top: The Smithsonian Information Center on the National Mall; Bottom (L-R): The National Mall; Washington Monument; White House.

Top: The Smithsonian Information Center on the National Mall; Bottom (L-R): The National Mall; Washington Monument; White House.

The year before, we experienced a similar snowstorm on 9th March 1999. And like a crab taking to the low tide, I was drawn out of the comfort of my apartment to the city in search of pretty snow pictures.

My two-hour lone walk in the city on 10th March 1999 was certainly not in vain.

The White House lived up to its name that day!

The White House lived up to its name that day!

The Washington Monument on one end of the National Mall.

The Washington Monument on one end of the National Mall.

Around Capitol Hill where I came across News Channel 8 reporter Matt Brock and his cameraman on assignment.

 

Serene Sparrow Hills

SPARROW HILLS IS a place that brings back many fond memories.

The header picture was taken at Sparrow Hills on 8 April 2007, after it snowed. Grey never looked more beautiful than in those photos we took that day!

Sparrow Hills is located at one of the highest points in Moscow and an observation platform there provides a panoramic view of the city, where one can clearly see Luzhniki Stadium and Moscow River.

2005 Dec_Sparrow Hills

View from Sparrow Hills of Luzhniki Stadium on a snowy day.

Year round – especially during summer months – Sparrow Hills is busy with traders selling Russian souvenirs while busloads of tourists are dropped off to enjoy the view from the top, snap photos as well as shop for souvenirs. Locals flock there for leisure and it is also a point of interest for lovebirds and couples.  

Top: Luzhniki Stadium as seen from Sparrow Hills on a lovely sunny day; Bottom: A couple captured their wedding photos here; M with Russian souvenirs galore; one can’t miss taking a picture with the Moscow State University.

Top: Luzhniki Stadium as seen from Sparrow Hills on a lovely sunny day; Bottom (L-R): A couple captured their wedding photos here; M with Russian souvenirs galore; one can’t miss taking a picture with the Moscow State University.

With the backdrop of Moscow State University, daughter and mother (and with her friends) stood… 15 years apart.

With the backdrop of Moscow State University, daughter and mother (and with her friends) stood… 15 years apart.

Sparrow Hills, lovely to walk through, whether in summer or winter.

Sparrow Hills was our occassional weekend playground, a place that provided relaxation and sparked inspiration too.

Fond memories of Sparrow Hills immortalised on these lacquer boxes.

The Deep Freeze of 2006

THE DATE 19th January 2006 is permanently etched in our minds. It is the day we experienced and survived the Arctic temperature of -30° Celsius. It was our first taste of Russian winter, and boy, did we get a deep freeze!

Back in October 2005, I had rejoiced at the first sight of snow, and then lamented at the lack of it in December. We had a fair bit of it then and the last snow of 2005 was on 30th December.

There was no sight of it again for more than two weeks and the first snow of 2006 finally came on 16th January with a temperature of -2°C. The following day (Tuesday, 17th January), the temperature drastically plunged to -20°C.

For the first time, Michelle’s school barred the children from playing outside, otherwise the school ruled that as long as the temperature was -15°C and above, the children HAD to go out to play during playtime, unless the child was taken ill or had doctor’s orders to stay indoors. Yes, such was the school rule to toughen up the children and got them immune to the cold. (Perhaps I should consider allowing my kids to play in the rain instead of gesturing them to come indoors the moment a few rain drops fall…)

That day, the traffic along Leninsky Prospekt was unusually heavy. From my kitchen windows, I saw an accident had occurred along LP about 3.30pm and a helicopter was deployed to drop off medical personnel.

The next day (18th January) continued to be a freezing day with temperature well below -20°C. I packed Michelle off to school as usual while hubby went to work too. A friend dropped by my apartment for some potatoes and carrots, such was the community we live within the building.

(Just to digress a little, I had two regular-sized refrigerators and a freezer then, pretty well-stocked most of the time, so there was ample food to last a while if we were ever snowed in. We quickly learnt during winter that even the balcony served as a fridge, and freezer too in the case when the temperature fell way below 0°C).

On that Thursday noon, three hours before school was over, I got a call from Michelle’s school. All kids had to be picked up as it was too cold to remain in school! The temperature was reportedly -30°C!

I later learnt from Michelle that out of her 10 daily bus mates to school, only three went to school that day, the other parents had the sense to keep their children at home due to the extreme frigid weather. While I was aware of the bitter cold, I didn’t want to appear paranoid or over-protective of my child. I also assumed it was “normal” as the snow and cold had not interrupted nor hampered the Russians from their daily activities (unlike in Washington DC where we’ve lived before, a mere 4-in snow had caused havoc in the city as the authorities were not so prepared to handle “too much” snow and schools would be closed to avoid unnecessary chaos.)

Just as well that the school declared ahead that it would be closed Friday.

As for hubby, Friday was still a working day and the temperature was forecasted at -28°C. Like his colleagues, he wasn’t sure whether to risk the hazardous drive to work or take the day off. The continued cold could adversely freeze up the car engine as well. He went eventually when a colleague came by to pick him up.

Scores of news reported the 19th January Arctic freeze, describing it as “the coldest winter in 26 years” or “the coldest winter in a generation”, and 18 deaths were reported in Moscow alone during that cold spells.

I am glad I survived to tell the tale 🙂  though I had not taken any photos of that historic freezing day (my mind was obviously frozen too that day!)

The situation improved over the days and by the end of January, we were out again at our favourite joint – Mega mall – some 45-minute drive to Moscow Ring Road or MKAD. Throughout our stay in Moscow, we spent many weekends at Mega where we bought our groceries at Auchan, lunched at IKEA or McD and window shopped at the over 250 outlets there.

28 Jan 2006

Michelle and Papa outside our favourite joint – Mega mall, Moscow, on 28th January 2006.

3 Mac 2006

These 3rd March 2006 pictures showed the kids bundled up in school during winter. (L-R): M with her classmates; with two of her bus mates; and with Class 1H teacher Ms Holly.