Monday, December 14, 2009

The Siberian Climate

I was born and grew up in Siberia. More precisely, in the Altai region, in the South of Western Siberia. Why be so precise? Because there are many different climates, landscapes, cities and ethnic groups united under the common name “Siberia”. The large territory between the Ural mountains (known as a border between Europe and Asia) and Russia’s Far East varies much from the cold North to the sunny and fertile soiled South, and from the woody East to the industrial West.

Winter park There are some popular stereotypes about Siberia, and the first one is that Siberia is a Territory of Frost. Well, winters are really cold in Siberia, even in its Southern regions. In my hometown, in January, temperatures below -30C (-20F) may stay for 2-3 weeks, and on some days it may be as cold as -45 C (-53F). The first snow normally occurs in mid October, but melts away. Usually, the snow extends from November to April. However, summers in Altai are hot and dry. Thus, +30C (90F) is a normal temperature for July. Altai has enough sunny days in Summer to plant watermelons and grapes (the watermelon in the picture was planted by my dad).

Siberian water melon Summer follows Winter so fast that there is almost no Spring. The short period of time when all the snow (of about 1.5-2 meters deep) melts away lasts about two weeks and ends with a wild and rapid boom of blooming. Autumns are also short, just a few weeks between the Summer heat and snow.