Moscow sees heaviest November snow in 50 years; wintry in Germany, central Europe | Nov 29, 2012

By Justin Grieser

Motorists stand in traffic jam during a snowfall on the Moscow ring road, in Russia, 29 November 2012. (SERGEI ILNITSKY – EPA)

A major snowstorm has brought Moscow to a standstill, disrupting road and air travel in a city that’s no stranger to harsh wintry weather.

The Associated Press reports that over 8 inches (27 cm) of snow fell in the Russian capital in the past 24 hours. That’s half of the city’s typical November snowfall. Moscow’s city hall has called it the biggest November snowstorm in half a century, and local forecasters expect the snow to continue into Friday.

European media outlets have said Moscow could see snow totals of up to 22” (55 cm) by the end of this week.

In the wake of massive traffic jams, authorities in Moscow are encouraging residents to stay off the roads and use public transportation. Relief agencies are also distributing warm clothes and hot tea to the city’s homeless after last year’s frigid winter claimed 100 lives in the Russian metropolis. High temperatures remained 3-4 degrees below freezing on Thursday, with only a slight warm-up forecast through the start of the weekend.

Weather simulation shows Moscow sandwiched between low pressure to the west and high pressure to the east with precipitation falling in this convergence zone. (

Wintry conditions have also extended westward into central Europe. In central and southern Germany, icy road conditions led to multiple accidents, including one death. Spiegel Online reports more than 10” (27 cm) of fresh snow fell atop the Feldberg in the Black Forest. Freezing temperatures and heavy snow also affected the Swiss and Austrian Alps – though such conditions are hardly unusual there for this time of year.

This week’s winter onset comes after much of central Europe experienced an otherwise warm November. The German National Weather Service reports that temperatures this month have averaged about 1.5 degrees (F) above normal.

Responsible for the winter conditions is low pressure system “Heike,” which carried Mediterranean moisture into cold air centered over Eastern Europe.

Video: Moscow experienced its heaviest November snowfall in 50 years on Thursday, disrupting flights in and out of the Russian capital and bringing havoc to the streets.

See below for photos of snow across Russia and Germany:

People walk across the Red square during snowfall in Moscow, Russia. (YURI KOCHETKOV – EPA)

A bulldozer removes snow in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, early Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (Alexander Zemlianichenko – AP)

A municipal worker uses a snow blower to remove snow from a road in a park in Moscow, on November 29, 2012. Muscovites woke up today to a blanket of snow covering the Russian capital. (ANDREY SMIRNOV – AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Honour guards march at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall during a heavy snowfall in central Moscow, November 29, 2012. (SERGEI KARPUKHIN – REUTERS)

Honour guards march at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall during a heavy snowfall in central Moscow, November 29, 2012. (SERGEI KARPUKHIN – REUTERS)

People walk in a snow covered park in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (Misha Japaridze – AP)

A souvenirs vendor shelters under her stall canopy during snowfall in center Moscow, Russia, 29 November 2012. (YURI KOCHETKOV – EPA)

A bench is covered by snow in Oberfrauendorf, eastern Germany on November 29, 2012. (ARNO BURGI – AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

A car drives carefully on a street covered with snow in Oberfrauendorf, Germany, 29 November 2012. (ARNO BURGI – EPA)

An ambulance car stands next to a truck slipped from the snowy road in Hinterzarten, southern Germany, on November 29, 2012 (PATRICK SEEGER – AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

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