Moscow has been so warm this December that the government has resorted to sending trucks filled with artificial snow to decorate a New Year display in the city center.
Videos of the delivery for a snowboarding hill went viral as observers noted the irony of bringing snow to a city that spends millions each year on its removal.
"This is all the snow there is in Moscow," one Instagram user wrote, accompanied with a photograph from near the Kremlin.
The Moscow region is witnessing one of its warmest winters since temperatures began to be systematically recorded 140 years ago. The temperature in the Russian capital rose to 5.4C on 18 December, topping the previous record for the month set in 1886.
The current warmth in Moscow is not normal at all. Concerns are growing about the effects of global warming on Russia. Permafrost under the country's northern towns is slowly melting, and receding Arctic ice is driving hungry polar bears to forage in urban areas, The Guardian reported.
The balmy December weather has interrupted hibernation at Moscow zoo and caused crocuses, lilacs and magnolias at Moscow State University's apothecary garden to flower early. Zoo officials said they had put five jerboas – a type of hopping rodent with long hind legs – into specially refrigerated enclosures to encourage them to hibernate.
The most visible impact, however, has been the lack of snow, which usually begins blanketing Russia in October or November. Light flurries have fallen in Moscow and its parks are dusted white, but most of the snow in the city center has melted.
City officials said the artificial snow had been brought in for a snowboarding demonstration that will begin on New Year's Day. The snow was produced by cutting ice for a local skating rink, said Alexei Nemeryuk, the head of Moscow's trade and services department.