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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Still Waits for the Big Chill

Apart from presidential elections, a long-awaited cease-fire in Chechnya and numerous Kremlin intrigues, the year 1996 has also been remarkable in Moscow for the warmest November in 40 years.


Alexei Lyakhov, deputy director of the Federal Meteorological Center, said Friday that November temperatures have been about 5 to 7 degrees higher than normal. Such mild conditions have only occurred nine times in Moscow over the last century.


For those who still have not gotten around to having their warm winter coats, hats and scarves dry cleaned -- and, indeed, for those who merely dislike bitter cold and blizzards -- Lyakhov has good news: Moscow will stay warm for at least another five to six days.


Although refraining from making a more protracted forecast, Lyakhov said records show that colder temperatures historically get back on schedule during the last week of the month.


Lyakhov described the present weather conditions as "an abnormal hydro-meteorological process" caused by an unusual wave of masses of warm air from the Atlantic Ocean.


The warm weather has been a mixed blessing for some.


A spokesman for the Federal Automobile Inspection said that the absence of ice and snow resulted in fewer traffic accidents than normal this time of year.


But the big worry now, he said, is that the number of accidents involving pedestrians has doubled; early sunsets and lack of lighting along Moscow's streets are primarily to blame.


"Normally, snow would double the amount of light by reflecting it," said the spokesman, who also noted that wet and rainy weather causes car windshields to become dirty much more quickly, thus limiting visibility for drivers. "I wish for a little frost to dry the streets," he said.


The recent warm weather does not mean winter will be mild when it arrives. Lyakhov said that it is expected to be typical for Moscow's latitude.


For many, however, the expected average winter temperatures will seem colder because, for the past 10 years, Moscow winters have been warmer than normal.


Lyakhov said that swings in temperatures over a period of years are quite normal all around the planet. "It gets colder in one place, and warmer in another," he said.