Moscow has placed artificial snow on Red Square to cheer its neighbors up for the holidays, as global warming is expected to cause Russia to experience its hottest December ever.
Passers-by were stunned to see the snowdrifts on Red Square and Tverskaya Street, Moscow’s main street, over the weekend, as the City Council brought artificial snow to the city center, which will be closed to traffic during the next eight days during the Orthodox New Year and Christmas celebrations.
Ivan Demidov, director of Zaryadye Park, located just off Red Square, said they decided to use artificial snow ” to bring the spirit of the New Year to Muscovites ” and boasted that it had hosted ” the first permanent snowdrift in Moscow . ” .
As climate change makes itself felt, Moscow is six degrees warmer than usual this December, which is on track to become the warmest in the history of the Russian capital.
It started snowing on Monday afternoon, but temperatures are expected to rise overnight, with New Year’s Eve forecast to break an all-time high of 5C.
Moscow’s many parks and forests are empty and snowless, without the usual cross-country skiers or children sledding down the icy slopes. This December, kids hop on mini-skis and adults on bikes, fearless of icy sidewalks.
Muscovites often complain about the cold winters and that there is too much snow which often disrupts traffic. This year, they are worried about the lack of snow.
Maxim Ivanov, 29, who was walking his dog Monday morning, says he longs for snow.
« It’s so sad. When everything is so grey, you want something bright ,” he told The Telegraph.
News about the artificial snow has struck some Russians as a frenzy of spoiled wealthy Muscovites. Residents of other regions have offered help.
Twitter users in Siberia have tweeted photos of giant snowdrifts with: ” Moscow, take the snow off us !”
However, the city authorities later insisted that they did not buy the snow.
” The snow was removed from our skating rinks ,” Deputy Mayor Alexei Nemeryuk told Govorit Moskva radio station. « The machines are cutting the ice there, so there is some snow left. Normally we melt it down, but this time we reuse it .”