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Moscow's very white Christmas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 5:42 PM GMT on December 27, 2005

Moscow, Russia had it's third heaviest snowfall since 1879 just before Christmas, when 25 cm (9.8 inches) of snow plastered the city on December 20 - 21. Moscow's biggest snowstorm of all time was December 15 - 16, 1966, when a storm brought 27 cm (10.9 inches) of snow to the city. I was a little surprised to see a city so notorious for its winters has such a modest amount of snow for its record snowfall. But when you look at a map at Moscow's location in the middle of the Eurasian landmass, far from any any sources of warm, moist air that might lead to heavy snows, one can see why. Moscow has a moderately dry climate, averaging 27 inches (69 cm) of precipitation each year. An average of 22 inches (56 cm) of snow falls each December.

Jeff Masters
Moscow red square
Moscow red square
During winter in Moscow I took this picture. Temperature was -10C.

Winter Weather

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

First to post. Thoes are great pictures.
One wonders how different the world might be if the winter hadn't been quite so strong in 1941/42.
Dr Masters, I've been lurking here on & off since July and I just wanted to thank you for all the great topics and posts this year. Every topic has been interesting, not just the ones on the years' various hurricanes and the ones on global warming, but all of them! For every person who posts regularly here, there must be several of us who lurk and just try to learn from it all.

Kerneld that is quite a thought. Are you saying that it wasn't a typical winter, or is it just that even a typical Russian winter would be strong enough to have an impact? I'm sure the Germans were no strangers to winter either.

I am very surprised to read about Moscow's record snowfall being so little. They don't seem to get much more than we do in Philadelphia, and we must be at least 15 degrees of latitude south of them. It must be a REALLY dry climate in wintertime. Maybe like eastern Montana or the western Dakotas? Our snow tends to be wet and heavy, it sounds like theirs must be lighter and drier?
This is straying off topic, but I just have some more thoughts about the tropics.

The season may be over for the North Atlantic basin, but I am curious to see what will happen in the South Atlantic in the next few months. When I was a kid it seemed like they practically NEVER got any cyclones/tropical storms down there, then I heard about one that hit Brazil a couple years back. It seemed like a real rarity and it was big news, but I wonder if it will be so rare in the future.
Good Point
Good point Kerneld. God bless the world for that winter ;)
haha, we got that much snow here in kansas city and went below zero 3 weeks ago.

except now its 63 outside, lol. compare that to moscow at 7 degrees. it's nice to have the best of both worlds.
tornadoty mail for you
The winter of 1941/1942 was one of the coldest on record in Europe, comparable with 1946/1947 and 1962/1963.
Thanks Ao Nang. I wonder if Europe is due for another unusually cold winter soon.
I just thought of something else. If the winter temperature in Moscow stays low continuously, then the dew point never gets very high, and there is never a chance for any significant moisture to develop, so there is never much available to precipitate out. Well anyway that's my theory.

Good night all, have a great holiday season.
Probably has a similar climate to that just east of the Sierra Nevada. Gets cold as heck there, but the Sierras block the majority of moisture that comes from the Pacific. Thus, cold winters without much precip.

Happy new year all, we all deserve it :)
LATEST GFS HAS A 969 MB LOW FORECAST OFF THE OREGON COAST BY LATE IN
THE DAY SUNDAY. THIS WOULD PROBABLY GENERATE WINDS ABOVE WARNING
CRITERIA...VERY HEAVY RAIN...AND AGAIN A VERY STRONG THREAT OF
COASTAL FLOODING AS SEAS WILL EXCEED 20 FEET LATE SUNDAY INTO
MONDAY. IT IS ALWAYS DANGEROUS TO MAKE COMPARISONS BUT HAVING
LIVED THOROUGH FEBRUARY 1986...THIS CURRENT PATTERN IS BEGINNING TO
HAVE THAT LOOK TO IT. BOTH THE EURO AND GFS CONTINUE THE ONSLAUGHT
OF RAIN INTO THE LATER PART OF NEXT WEEK THUS MAKING THIS A VERY
EXTENDED RAINY PERIOD. FEBRUARY 1986 WAS ALSO A VERY EXTENDED
RAINY PERIOD WITH A GOOD SUBTROPICAL MOISTURE TAP AS THESE STORMS
HAVE HAD.

a 969mb storm that is like a cat 2 hurricane this dos not look good right now it look like the next one is going to be a big one this like a hurricane what sould we do! this next storm dos not look good very high winds may be up to 100mph or more and last the mb was only down to 976 now it is down to 969 not looking good hurrican max is on it way to ca
Hi Pensacola21, nice to meet you!

No hurricanes imminent, so I guess things are calming down a bit on the blog.

But I like to it's only the quantity that's dying down, not the quality! ;-)
Hey Phillyfan. Nice to meet you too! I wasn't ignoring you, just busy working :-)
Trouper415,

I was thinking the same thing about the eastern slope of the Wind River Mts. in western WY. The western slope gets huge amounts of snow, while by comparison the Wind River Basin on the eastern side gets practically none. Unlike the Sierras, though, the Winds are much further away from the coast or even a major lake.
Phillyfan,

I have been a bit curious about the tropics down under myself. I think I'm going to look for some online resources . . .

kaysee
Phillyfan,

Link
For others interested in seeing information about tropical weather in the Southern Hemisphere, check out the following:

Link

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutrsmc.shtml (in case the link doesn't work)
Nice pic...St. Basil's Cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Wondering whether the record snowfall was 27 cm or 10.9 inches. 27cm = 10.63", and 10.9" = almost 28cm. I only noticed because the different measurements were just 2 cm apart, but over 1", and 1" = 2.54cm.