Moscow Air Travel Disrupted As Snow Blankets Airports

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Air travel in and out of Moscow airports has been disrupted as heavy snowfall blankets the Russian capital. As a city that is no stranger to hard winters, and with airports used to getting rid of large snow accumulations, you know that things are bad when flights start to get either canceled or delayed. According to the airports’ arrivals and departure boards, more than 50 flight delays and eight cancelations have been reported at Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME).

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Dozens of flights have been delayed or canceled at Moscow airports. Photo: Getty Images

As of 14:40 Moscow time, Sheremetyevo – A.S. Pushkin International Airport (SVO) reports that 20 flights have been delayed. Meanwhile, over at Vnukovo International Airport (VKO), 28 flights have been delayed. Over at Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIE), in the southeast, things are not quite as bad, with two flights canceled and two flights delayed.

Russian state media outlet TASS is reporting that Domodedovo Airports press service released the following message:

“Due to extreme weather conditions in the Moscow Region, aerodrome services of the Domodedovo Airport are working under no timeline to ensure flight safety.”

Snow apocalypse blankets Moscow

Calling it a “snow apocalypse,” international news organization Reuters says that heavy snow, gusting winds, and bitterly cold weather is not only delaying flights but also making it difficult for pedestrians to move around the city. The snowfall, which began on Thursday, is expected to continue until Sunday and has Russia’s emergency services telling people to stay away from trees. The warning comes as 18-meters-per-second gusts of wind (40 mph) whip the minus 15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit) freezing winter temperatures.

Before the snow arrived on Thursday, Evgeny Tishkovets from the weather service Fobos was quoted by the RIA news agency via Reuters, saying:

“It’s a real snowstorm, a snow Armageddon, a snow apocalypse. This is not a practice alert, but a combat alert.”

It could set a new record

A spokeswoman for Russian meteorological service Roshydromet, Marina Makarova, told France 24 that the snowstorm was a continuation of the frigid weather that had swept across Europe during the past week. Initially predicting an accumulation of around 40 centimeters (16 inches), it now looks like it could surpass the record high of 77 centimeters (30.31 inches) set in March 2013. Early Saturday morning, meteorologists in Moscow were already reporting 56 centimeters (22 inches) of snow.

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Deicing at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Photo: Getty Images

Makarova put the storm’s intercity down to the result of a cyclone sweeping down from the north and then picking up moisture over the Black Sea before turning back up towards Russia.

Moscow was prepared

With plenty of time to prepare for what some Moscovites are calling the “Beast from the East,”  Moscow’s deputy mayor for housing and public utilities, Pyotr Biryukov, was cited by France 24 as telling RIA Novosti as saying that as many as 13,500 thousand snowplows and 60,000 workers would be deployed to deal with the fallout of the storm.

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Moscow could get more than 30 inches of snow. Photo: Vera via Wikipedia

Considering the storm’s intensity, it is surprising that more flights have not been canceled. If this storm had happened nearly anywhere else, many airports may have found it hard to cope.

Has the Moscow snowstorm delayed your travel plans? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.

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