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Moscow's warmest winter on record -- 1996

"Moscow experiencing warmest winter on record"

MOSCOW -- Dec. 2, 1996 (Reuter) - Moscow, normally under a thick blanket of snow by now, is experiencing its warmest winter on record and the weather will stay mild for the first weeks of December, the Russian Meteorological Center said Monday.

``Temperatures in November were on average 5.5 degrees higher than usual,'' Mark Naischuller, head of the center's scientific research department, told Reuters.

Snow cover will not begin until around mid-December, he said. In Russia, snow cover means that snow must lie on the ground for not less than five consecutive days.

In the past 117 years -- since records have been regularly kept -- snow cover has never come later than Dec. 1 to the center of the Russian capital.

So far Moscow has seen only light snow flurries that quickly turned to rain.

Naischuller said the average temperature this November was 37.4 F, compared with the customary minus 27.5 F. Monday, the temperature in Moscow was still around 37 F against an average December temperature of 18 F.

Unusually mild weather was not confined to Moscow. Across European Russia, including the far north and western Siberia, temperatures were warmer than usual, Naischuller said.

He linked the mild spell to colder weather in central Europe, which he said had driven warm air further east into Russia.

Muscovites wondering: "Will winter never end?"

The Boston Globe -- Dec. 5, 1996

(Partial text)

Moscow -- In more carefree northern reaches, a run of record breaking December warmth might be a source of joy. But in Russia's capital, where years of unsettling change have placed a higher value on predictability than comfort, the mystery of winter's missing onslought is causing widespread alarm.

After the warmest November on record, and the first without snow cover, December has crept in like a lamb...

"No one can say when or whether winter will come... the consequences are unpredictable," the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda said in a front page commentary. Accompanying the story were photos of poplar trees blooming in Moscow's October square and a report on millions of rain worms crawling prematurely from their subterranean nests.

Normally, by early December, Moscow is deep under a mantle of snow that grips the Russian capital like permafrost until late March. Russians generally consider the first day of winter to be date on which temperatures average below freezing, usually at the start of November...

Mark Naischuller, head of research at Russia's National Meteorological Cxenter, said the average temperature this November was 37.4 degrees F. compared with the customary 27.5. Yesterday, the temperature in Moscow was still around 37, against an average December temperature of 18 degrees.

"This is the fault of our leaders," said Valentina Kozlova, a pensioner selling roses in the show of the hulking Lenin statue in October Square. "They've been reforming and reforming everything for years. They've upset the proper balance of things. And now they've gone and messed up the climate."