Saint Petersburg has no trouble maintaining its romantic image of “Venice of the North” in summer, especially during the White Nights season. Yet, in winter, the capital of northern Russia becomes a test bed for the resilience of its inhabitants… and the strength of their bones!
January 2022 has become quite memorable for the inhabitants of northwestern Russia. This region does not experience severe frosts, as in Yakutia, for example, but it can receive heavy snowfalls. On Instagram, it all looks like a wonderful winter fairy tale, but in real life, this weather becomes a difficult ordeal for local residents. Municipal services cannot cope with the amount of snow falling from the sky, so residents have to use their own shovels to clear their way through the snow.
A St. Petersburg resident’s daily commute to work is more like an obstacle course. If overnight snowfall pushes the snow onto the streets 15 to 20 centimeters higher, local residents know they will have to fight their way there like pioneers.
First, they will have to make a path of ants to the nearest metro station or bus stop. Then, if they are lucky enough to work in the majestic historic center of the former imperial capital, they will have to overcome an obstacle course, with an icy surface hidden by snow under their feet and long icicles, similar to stalactites , suspended above their heads. Sometimes these ice cubes fall.
For a motorist, things are not much easier either: when an army of snowplows is dispatched to clear the city streets, it creates long traffic jams throughout the city. Parking your car on the side of the road or outside your building is only suitable for those who have good car insurance (remember those ice cubes?) or who have free time and a shovel (in order to pull their car out from under a snowdrift that grew overnight).
When it gets warmer, that doesn’t change much of the situation: instead of skates, the inhabitants of Saint Petersburg don rubber boots and galoshes to face the gray slush made of melted snow and mud that fills the streets.
The cause of this year’s climate chaos is the North Atlantic cyclone Nadia which hit the European part of Russia.
But the people of St. Petersburg are known for their resilience. Even people with disabilities are not discouraged by the elements.
Here, an elderly woman, who had survived the siege of Leningrad, clears snow outside her building because she was unable to reach her local municipal service provider.
Some brave characters ride bikes in the city center and not all of them are delivery people.
Some resourceful citizens decorate piles of snow with scathing messages to city officials – in the hopes that this will spur them to action and that the piles of snow will be cleared sooner.
Meanwhile, the city administration reports that on February 1 alone, more than 42,000 cubic meters of snow were removed from the streets of St. Petersburg, while since the start of the cold season the figure has reached more of 2.7 million cubic meters. “It’s twice as much as for all of last winter”, indicates the press service of the municipal administration. reportedpointing out that every day, about 1,200 street cleaners and more than 1,000 special vehicles clean the streets of the city from snow and ice around the clock.
Winter in St. Petersburg is expected to last another two months: spring in northwestern Russia will not be early. Izhorik and Avgustina marmots from the Leningrad Zoo agree. While their counterparts in the United States and Canada celebrated their “work vacation,” these animals slept it all.
“According to tradition, if on February 2 a marmot comes out of its burrow and, seeing its own shadow, withdraws into its den, then spring will come in six weeks. Whereas if it comes out of its den, spring will come sooner. This year’s winter in St. Petersburg is moderately cold and very snowy. Our marmots Izhorik and Avgustina are sleeping soundly in their shelter and have no intention of waking up,” Leningrad Zoo said. . noted on his social media accounts.
How is the winter where you live?
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