“Oh, you are from Russia? You must be really used to the cold!”
Yes it is cold, and that is why we always wear those funny fur hats.
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In fact, winter here is long indeed. And in some parts of the country, temperatures do get brutal. As I write this text, it is -47 C (-53 F) in Yakutsk. Weather.com says that it actually feels like -47C. I am happy for locals that it does not feel colder. But can you imagine how -47 C feels? I cannot.
As for Moscow – weather is really nice and warm and sunny from May to August, but winter here is long and quite cold too. It gets colder every day, starting from September. November – March are usually the cold months. But it typically gets really cold (-25C or -13F) for only couple of weeks during the winter. All other time temperature fluctuates from +5 to -10C (41F-14F), hanging around zero Celsius (32 F) a lot.
However, cold is not the biggest problem of our climate at all. Living in the city, you do not suffer from cold much. Apartments and offices are very well heated, your car has a great heating system and a heating of seats. If you live in Russia, you know how to dress well – you wear winter boots, insulated with fur, fur coats or down jackets and hats, scarfs and gloves. We have a saying that there is no bad weather, only the bad clothes. One cannot get used to the cold, but can learn how to dress well. Also, Moscow is NOT a windy city at all so, unlike in Chicago – snow flakes slowly fall down instead of getting in your face parallel to Earth and with a great speed.
There is usually a lot of snow in winter (except for this winter, which seems untypical all over the world). First snow is always nice, but after a couple of months it starts to get on your nerves. Most apartment buildings do not have indoor garages, so your day outside starts with 10-15 minutes of intense workout of carving your car out of the mount of snow.
Driving in the snow is also no fun. Most people know how to drive in deep snow really well and all cars change into winter tires, but traffic is very slow and there are many accidents on the road.
Still, snow is also not the biggest problem here. The biggest problem is a lack of sun. Sun disappears in October and next time you see it is in late March. It’s not like we have a polar night here in Moscow, we are not that far north. But sky is covered with clouds most of the time and it gets dark very early. That became especially acute in the last 2 years, after Mr. Medvedev decided to get rid of Summer/Winter time change. Now, in winter it is still night at 9 am in the morning. Decision to avoid time change is questionable, but decision to stay on Summer time was idiotic!
The only days when you might see the sunshine during winter are actually those really cold days, when there is high atmospheric pressure. And we like those days a lot, it is crispy cold and sunny and the center of the city looks gorgeous. We do not treat this weather as something special though. Only this year, after living in Moscow for decades, have I learned the trick of throwing out a pot of boiling water and watching how it instantly turns into snow powder. My Chicago friends have posted a lot of videos on that topic. To me that trick looks interesting, but quite dangerous. Especially in a windy city, such as Chicago.
We also do some crazy things in winter though. All Russians consider absolutely normal to eat ice cream outdoors in winter. And many Russians do swim in frozen lakes either once a year on a religious holiday or regularly.
© 2016 Tatiana Golubeva. All rights reserved.