While New Yorkers may be getting away with a relatively mild winter this season, it’s a whole different story on the other side of the pond. Beginning in the middle of January, Europe was hit with an extreme cold spell, taking lives in several countries and sending thermometers dipping impossibly low.
More than 100 people have died in Russia, and over 60 in Ukraine. Moscow weather officials reported that this has been one of the coldest winters in three decades. In one day alone, seven people died in Moscow due to exposure from the cold weather. Temperatures fell one night to minus- 24-degrees Celsius. Russians haven’t seen such numbers since 1927. And bitter winds mixed with high humidity made the cold feel that much worse.
The Baltic states and the Czech Republic certainly felt the minus-30-degree drop, and blizzard conditions reached as far south as Istanbul, Turkey and Athens, Greece. Greece witnessed 36 hours of continual snowfall, while many Romanian citizens were left without heating due to low gas pressure. Road accidents and school closings were abundant throught the countries hardest hit, especially Russia.
In Georgia, more than 4 million people were left without heat and inadequate gas supplies because a series of explosions damaged two crucial pipelines in southern Russia, which normally supplied Georgia with the natural gas it needs for its central heating. The streets of Moscow experienced unusually light traffic during the days of the frigid drops in temperature, with people struggling just to simply jumpstart their cars.
Since cars aren’t an option for traveling, people have opted instead to take public transportation or to run in place — anything to try and keep themselves warm.
Just like cab drivers in America who increased their fares when the price of gas skyrocketed, Russian cab drivers have added a surcharge called the “frost rate,” which in some cases is equivalent to double their usual rate. And for the extra rubles (Russian currency), Russian taxi drivers don’t mind if the cold weather stays for a few more months.
At most schools in America, the slightest hint of snow sends off vibes of a snow day. In the New York City area, a few inches of the frozen sugary ice is likely to result in a school closing. But Russian schools are still open, since it doesn’t look like warmer weather will be coming anytime soon. While there are children who do miss a day of school due to the inclement weather, they are still encouraged to make the journey.
So before complaining about some flurries here and there, just think — it could always be worse.