Story Detail

17 Aug 2015

Leningrad's Weather

Vox Orbis / 17 Aug 2015 Sun

Photo: Saint Petersburg in Autumn. Sahua d/Flickr

Matt Sundakov

“Leningrad's weather”—this idiom was known far, far beyond Leningrad itself as synonymous with unstable and not very nice weather.

Indeed, summer in this city is often rainy and rather cool. The sun is not infrequently covered by clouds. Some days can be very warm and even hot. However, such weather does not usually last long.

The residents of Saint Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad, know that even on a sunny, clear, and quiet morning it is better not to leave home without an umbrella, because in an hour or two the weather might change completely.

In summer, the air temperature normally fluctuates between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind speed seldom exceeds 16 to 32 feet per second, or 11 to 22 miles per hourHowever, sometimes the wind gets up to storm level. Such a wind is capable of uprooting old trees and bringing down power lines.

Saint Petersburg is quite prone to floods. The most notorious floods in the city occurred in the autumn of 1824 and 1924, and their consequences were truly catastrophic.

Winter in Saint Petersburg is quite mild. Insignificant frosts of 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit are often replaced by the thaw. Melted under the sun, snow forms puddles. However, by night, when the air temperature drops below zero, these puddles become frozen, turning streets into skating rinks. On days like these, roads are sprinkled with sand or salt, and "Mind the ice!" warning signs are put up.

But from time to time Saint Petersburg can have very cold winters with temperatures in excess of -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, not all is so joyless in the climate of this city. Fabulous are the "white nights" in the first half of summer, when in the middle of the night streets are filled with almost the same amount of natural light and people as they are during the day. And the first half of the autumn can often delight you by its mild, warm and sunny weather. When this happens, people say, "the Indian summer has arrived."       


Matt Sundakov for Vox Orbis, 2015