Road Accidents Rise as First Snow Falls

MTA young boy making a snowman as his grandmother watches in Yekaterininsky Park during heavy snow Thursday.
The first snow of the year fell in Moscow on Wednesday evening and appears to have caused fewer accidents on the roads than in past years, although it did back up traffic and create long lines at tire service centers.

From 2 to 5 centimeters had fallen on the city by 9 p.m. Thursday, but much had melted as temperatures were above zero for the day, said Tatyana Pozdnyakova, spokeswoman for the Moscow City Weather Bureau.

Forecasts called for temperatures to hover just above zero for the weekend, with intermittent rain and snow on Saturday and Sunday. Strong winds of up to 70 kilometers an hour are forecast for the weekend, which combined with the snow and rain, could reduce visibility to less than 500 meters.

The number of traffic accidents did rise but not to double or triple their regular number as in previous years, said Moscow Traffic police spokesman Vladimir Korobkov. He said the number of accidents by the middle of the day Thursday was just 20 percent above an average day on the city's roads. He classified most of the accidents as "minor," and said there had been only one fatality.

There were 1,000 accidents reported in the Moscow region, killing five people and injuring another 46.

"This time both drivers and road services were well-prepared ahead of the snow," Korobkov said. "But the icy roads and the long break since people have had to drive in winter conditions caused some incidents."

Drivers who had ignored snow forecasts earlier in the week found themselves with summer tires on slippery roadways. A number of city tire service centers ended up working around the clock Wednesday night to handle the influx of clients, and prices have soared by 10 percent to 20 percent and may continue upward before settling back down in two to three weeks, Interfax reported.