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Mayor's pledge to spare Moscow snow fails

Sure enough, there is snow in Moscow. And the locals aren't displeased about it.


If you don’t buy that reasoning, Dyadyuchenko offered another. “It’s more complicated than dealing with rain clouds,” he told the paper. It’s a matter of wind speed, he explained.

City officials have taken pains to say the project is still on, it’s just a question of when.

Luzhkov told the newspaper that the problem came down to inefficient weathermen.

“There are, of course, difficulties with organization,” he said. “The pilots that are to lay siege to the clouds say that to work effectively they must know about snowfalls two weeks in advance. And meteorologists, as practice shows, even the day before can’t predict them.”

“We will find a solution,” he promised.

No one here is holding their breath. Several snowfalls over the past couple of weeks brought traffic in the capital to a halt, with one light snowfall in mid-December leading to 125 miles worth of traffic jams. Muscovites continue to exchange horror stories of being stuck in traffic for up to seven hours that day, as nearly 3,000 road accidents were reported around the capital.

At the time, Luzhkov’s spokesman blamed the ordeal on the poor weathermen again, saying they had predicted 1.2 centimeters (half an inch) of snow, while the capital was covered in some 15 centimeters (6 inches) instead.

It wouldn’t appear that anyone is listening, however. When asked how much snow fell in the capital in December, a spokeswoman for RusGidroMet told me just 25.6 millimeters (1 inch) had fallen so far, with around 90 millimeters (3.5 inches) more expected to fall through February.

So, for now, Russians are taking Luzhkov’s plan as yet another promise that won’t be fulfilled. And many aren’t too upset about it. Winter and snow are dear to Russians, as much a part of the national character as vodka and Dostoevsky.

As President Dmitry Medvedev put it in a nationally televised end of the year program on Thursday: “Life has never been easy in our country. The weather is cold, and we have lived through various disasters — all these formed the national character.”