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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Rare June Snow Falls on Parts of Moscow

MTA young boy cautiously dipping a gloved hand into the chilly waters of a fountain on Pushkin Square. The almost weeklong cold snap is expected to start lifting Thursday.
Winter made a fleeting return to Moscow on Tuesday with a rare June snowfall that forced residents to pull back out their heavy coats, hats and gloves.

Snowfalls -- which occur in Moscow in June only every 25 to 30 years -- were registered in various parts of the capital Tuesday morning. The snowflakes melted as soon as they touched the ground.

"This is a very rare occurrence. The last time a June snowfall was recorded in Moscow was in 1963," said Natalya Yershova, a spokeswoman for the country's weather service.

She said residents reported spotting snow in June 1999, but it did not make it into the record books because it missed all of the meteorological observation points around the city.

"But there is nothing to worry about," she said. "By the end of the week the weather will start to warm up."

Daytime temperatures are expected to reach 17 degrees Celsius on Thursday.

Tuesday's snow came on top of unusual cold spell that has gripped Moscow for the past few days. Temperatures have been around 10 degrees during the day and 2 degrees at night. Forecasters predicted a frost for the Moscow region and most of European Russia on Tuesday night.

Yershova said the chilly weather blew in from the Arctic at the end of last week. The masses of cold air brought rain and strong winds traveling at speeds of up to 17 meters per second.

The good news is the cold already is on its way out. Picked up by winds from the West, it is being pushed toward the Urals. On Wednesday night, frost is only expected along the Volga River.

Nizhny Novgorod on Tuesday saw its first June snow since 1990.

Cold Arctic winds, together with an unusually thick layer of Arctic ice this year, has temperatures diving along thousands of kilometers of northern coastlines from Murmansk to Chukotka.

Moscow residents, however, really do not have anything to complain about, Yershova said. May ended up being an average of 2.5 degrees warmer than usual and, despite the cold start, June is expected to meet the norm of 20 to 22 degrees during the day and 10 degrees at night, she said.

Meanwhile, unusually warm and dry weather in parts of the Far East and Siberia scared Colorado residents this week. The weather has led to hundreds of forest fires, and smoke from the fires has crossed the Pacific Ocean to the United States.

Sightings of the smoke prompted calls to the sheriff's office in Aspen, Colorado, on Monday.

"A couple of people, when I told them it was fires in eastern Russia, were a little surprised," said Jan Osnes of the Aspen Fire Protection District, according to The Associated Press.

Some 410 forest fires are raging throughout Russia, and 352 of them are in Siberia, the Natural Resources Ministry said.

U.S. weather forecasters said the Russian smoke was trapped at about 5,000 meters, so it was unlikely that most Colorado residents would see anything more than a white haze. "Usually we get pollution from China, but this year there was a lot of snow in Mongolia, so the pollution from China is not coming in," Russ Schnell, of the Climate Monitoring and Diagnostic Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, told AP.

"But in Russia, there wasn't much snow, so they are a little drier this year and there are thousands of fires."

However, Moscow and the Moscow region -- which saw a record dry spell followed by peat-bog fires that cloaked the region in a heavy haze last summer -- seem to be safer this year, Yershova said. There has been sufficient rain over the past two months to keep the peat damp, she said.