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City news, 28.12.2009 15:31

Record Levels Of Snowfall Hit City

Record Levels Of Snowfall Hit City Around 1,000 civilians and more than 2,000 soldiers have been out on the streets on a round-the-clock basis saving the city from what some have described as a snow siege. According to the State Meteorological Center, over the past weekend St. Petersburg experienced its heaviest snowfall in 130 years. In some parts of the city there were over 35 centimeters of snowfall.

In most parts of the city parking was severely restricted, while traffic jams almost brought the city to a standstill. Average speeds on city roads since Friday have been under 30 kilometers per hour according to the traffic police. Many dual-carriageway streets have in effect been turned into single-carriageway thoroughfares as a result of the massive piles of snow on each side.

Traffic police have been penalizing drivers who have resorted to parking their cars illegally as a result of the disappearance of parking spaces under mounds of snow.

“I spent two hours this morning with my shovel clearing a track for my car so that I could get out of my building’s courtyard,” said St. Petersburg driver Mikhail Novikov, a musician.

Although owners of restaurants and shops are obliged to clear the snow from the entranceways to their parking facilities, many have failed to do so. Even the larger supermarkets have struggled to clear the slip roads leading to their car parks, let alone the parking spaces themselves.

Matviyenko officially announced on Saturday that restaurant and shop owners who fail to clear the snow in front of their establishments will be fined.

City Hall’s City and Road Maintenance Committee said that it had been forced to tow away vehicles preventing the cleaning of streets, particularly in the center of the city.

So far, the 2,000 army officers and recruits have been doing most of the work.

“I have asked the Emergencies Situations Ministry to send their staff to help rescue the city from the snow,” Matviyenko told reporters on Saturday. “I have also asked the chief commander of the Leningrad Military District to send recruits.”

Yury Klyonov, head of the information service of the Leningrad Military District, said the military authorities had created an emergency group to coordinate the snow clearing works. “Nikolai Bogdanovsky, the district’s commander-in-chief, is personally monitoring the situation,” Klyonov said.

The governor said the city is utilizing all available resources – both technical and human – to cope with the snowfall.

There have been some delays of several hours for arrivals of both domestic and international flights because of the harsh weather conditions, the Pulkovo airport press-office said. At least 15 flights arrived behind schedule on Saturday. The departures schedule has not been affected.

All train stations have reported problems. Trains arriving in the city are for the most part behind schedule. Some trains departing from the Ladozhsky Train Station have also been delayed or rerouted to depart from the Moskovsky Station.

News source: The St. Petersburg Times

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