Red Square

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Red Square should be covered in white by now. It’s not. There would normally be ice on the Moskva River. There’s none.

“It’s just fantasy!” is the way the weather forecast began on one of Moscow’s radio stations earlier this week. The announcer’s voice betrayed a mixture of disbelief and despair. That’s because Russians are proud of their cold winters.

Temperatures for the last couple of weeks have been about five degrees above zero. At this time of year, five below zero would be more usual. It has been the warmest December since records began in 1879. Some people welcome the fact that walking and driving the snowless streets and pavements is easier than slipping and sliding. Others, though, definitely feel that something is wrong.

Muscovites who are used to wrapping up against the bitter cold are walking around dressed as they normally would be in October. It is not just the people who are confused. Russia’s wildlife is not sure what time of year it is. Hibernation has been put off. “The brown bears are half-asleep,” says Natalia Istratova, a spokeswoman for Moscow Zoo. “They haven’t gone into their dens yet.”

Meanwhile, ski resorts across the European Alps are becoming increasingly worried as current bad snow conditions threaten the all important Christmas holiday period. Many resorts have had to postpone their openings and the main ski races have been cancelled because of a lack of snow. This autumn has been one of the worst on record with high temperatures and little snowfall.

The evidence files for global warming will soon need a new home ….. an aircraft hanger should do it.

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