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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Weather Causing More Car Accidents

Even with the latest snowfalls, Moscow has gotten no more snow all winter than Washington saw Tuesday alone. But it has been enough to cause the daily number of road accidents in the city to go up as much as five times in recent days.

The sudden storm that hit Washington blanketed the U.S. capital with 30 centimeters of snow and shut down the U.S. federal government. Moscow, in comparison, got 3 centimeters Wednesday and by Thursday morning had gotten 28 centimeters of snow all season, said Tatyana Pozdnyakova from the Moscow Weather Service.

And while the idea of snow closing down the Kremlin seems absurd, the slippery white stuff has caused an extraordinary number of car accidents. The daily toll hit 127 on Wednesday, five times more than average, said Yekaterina Budrina, a Moscow emergency rescue service spokeswoman. Taking into consideration that the service registers about 85 percent of all road accidents in Moscow, the actual number hovers around 150, she said.

"Yesterday was the week's record, but today it might be beaten," Budrina said. By 2 p.m. Thursday, the number had already reached 77.

Moscow's accident curve started rising a week ago, when the snow began to fall steadily, and the number of daily accidents immediately doubled.

In a disturbing trend, small cars have been colliding with trucks, trams and ambulances particularly frequently this week, often with fatal results, Budrina said. The majority of drivers involved in serious collisions were drunk or on drugs, she said.

The past week has also been the coldest of the winter, with temperatures dropping as low as minus 24 degrees Celsius in the Moscow region and minus 20 in the city Tuesday, Pozdnyakova said.

But that's way above the record low of minus 40.8 on Jan. 27, 1892.

For now, the frigid weather is over, Pozdnyakova said. A warm front moving in from the west should hit Moscow on Friday, bringing another wave of precipitation, but raising temperatures to about minus 3 degrees Celsius and melting the remaining ice on the roads.

The heavier snows Wednesday night and Thursday morning caused bigger than usual traffic jams around Moscow.

"The city is paralyzed but people are much less insolent than usual," Andrei Bagrov said, sitting bored in a traffic jam on 2nd Brestskaya Ulitsa in central Moscow on his way to work Thursday. "That's shocking. Nobody wants to expose themselves or hit others.

"But it's very slippery and those who don't have winter tires are making a big mistake."

To clear the roads, the city spreads a highly corrosive ice-melting substance made of liquid chlorides mixed with salt and gravel.

Called "Luzhkov's solution" after Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who introduced its use in 1995, the mixture has had disastrous effects on the environment, destroying a huge number of trees around town. The city used 300,000 tons of the solution last year, said Maria Khafizova of Moskompriroda, the agency that oversees the city's greenery.

Almost 30,000 Russians died in road accidents in 1999, a rise of more than 2 percent from 1998, Reuters reported Thursday, citing Interfax.

Vladimir Fyodorov, head of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate, said that on average 14 Russians died out of every 100 road accident victims, Interfax reported.