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Russia, Ukraine hit with massive snowfall
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Dec 04, 2012

Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday battled through heavy snowfall which created record traffic jams in Moscow and cut power in some 300 Ukrainian towns.

Colossal amounts of snow fell overnight, making the morning commute into the Russian capital a nightmare, with stop-and-go traffic on most major streets to the center.

"Today Moscow was one step away from complete transportation paralysis," a presenter said on Channel One's afternoon news.

A government plane with several ministers was delayed by the weather flying out of Moscow due to particularly heavy snowfall in Vnukovo airport, Russian agencies reported.

The airport said on its website that it was forced to close down its landing strip for fifteen minutes every hour in order to clean it and treat it with anti-freezing agents.

The emergency ministry in Tver region northwest of Moscow -- where thousands of trucks were stuck in a 190 kilometre-long jam over the weekend -- warned that snowfall is once again slowing down transport.

"There is increased risk of traffic jams and accidents due to snowfall," the ministry said on its website, warning of a decreased speed limit on the highway M10 that links Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Disgruntled drivers and commuters meanwhile were discussing the situation on a newly created social networking group for those stuck in the jam. The group had over 2,500 members Tuesday.

In southern Ukraine gusts of wind and snow have led to power outages in 302 towns in 14 out of 27 regions in the country. Kiev and Kherson region in the south were the hardest hit, the emergency ministry said.

In the Black Sea city of Odessa three people were injured by trees that fell during a storm, local authorities told news agencies.

The head of Russia's weather service Roman Vilfand said the snow was not unexpected, in fact it "fell precisely on the day when it was supposed to," he noted in a briefing, RIA Novosti reported.

The service said on its website that snowfall will resume again in the Russian capital starting on Friday, with temperatures hovering slightly below zero.

In the Russian Far East one month worth of snow fell overnight Tuesday, leading some towns in the region to cancel school lessons.


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Snow cover hits record lows
Paris (ESA) Dec 04, 2012
Santa Claus may someday need wheels for his sleigh - satellites show a decreasing amount of snow in the Northern Hemisphere. A new analysis of snow cover observed by satellites shows record lows in Eurasia for June each year since 2008. In addition, three of the past five years have seen record low cover in North America. This is the lowest June snow extent since satellite observations beg ... read more

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