Cold Spring Pummels People, Animals from Russia to Florida

Published April 5, 2013

A remarkably frigid spring is putting the freeze on global warming from Russia to the UK and from Alaska to Florida.

People Freezing in Russian Streets
Sky News reported frigid temperatures this spring will go down in the Russian record books.

“Large stretches of the Moscow River remain frozen, the streets are still packed with ice and snow. The state weather service says the country is experiencing its coldest March for more than half a century. Last week, temperatures dropped to -25C overnight,” Sky News reported on March 31.

“The unusually cold spring is having serious consequences for the capital’s homeless,” Sky News observed.

“Around 30 homeless people freeze every month—those are official statistics. When it gets warmer and the snow piles melt, there will be many bodies found,” Dr. Elizaveta Glinka told Sky News.

Russian Birds Reverse Migration
The frigid spring is creating equally harsh conditions for Russian wildlife. Russia’s annual bird migration was stopped cold in its tracks, as birds migrating from the south halted their flights north. Some even turned around and went further south.

“The [bird] migration in the European part of Russia has stalled, except for the rooks,” the Russian International News Agency (RIA) reported.

“Strong northern winds and -30 degree Celsius temperatures have also stopped the migration of birds to Russia’s Far East, in particular the Amur region,” RIA added.

Thousands of UK Lambs Die
The UK Guardian reported frigid spring conditions killed thousands of newborn lambs throughout the British Isles.

“Fears for the UK’s already embattled upland sheep-farmers have been raised by the return of winter to hill country, which has cost thousands of newborn lambs their lives,” the UK Guardian reported on March 26.

“In Northern Ireland, helicopters have been deployed to carry out food drops to animals in isolated rural areas cut off by the snow,” the Guardian reported.

“Malcolm Roberts, a farmer in Oswestry, Shropshire, had been expecting 600 lambs before the end of the month but is now having to pile up small victims of the snow while rescuing his 200 ewes,” the Guardian noted.

Unaccustomed to such cold conditions, Roberts’ farm “lacks room for indoor lambing, a problem widely shared by small sheep-breeders,” the Guardian observed.

Alaska’s Record Cold Continues
The Alaska Dispatch ironically saluted residents on March 26 with “Welcome to Spring!” while reporting temperatures remained below zero and threatened longtime records.

“Record cold temps could follow Anchorage’s record snowfall for this year,” the Dispatch reported.

The cold spring continues an extended run of unusually cold conditions in Alaska.

“Forget global warming, Alaska is headed for an ice age,” the Dispatch reported last December 23.

“In the first decade since 2000, the 49th state cooled 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit,” the Dispatch observed.

Not even summer provided a break from Alaska’s ongoing record cold last year.

“After a record-breaking winter, we are now headed for one of the coldest months of July on record. And it has some Alaskans thinking it may be time to leave the great land,” Alaska television station KTVA reported last July16.

“The 90-day period from May 1 to July 29 saw the lowest daily high temperatures on average in Juneau since officials began keeping records in 1943, according to National Weather Service data,” the Juneau Empire reported last July 31.

Cold Threatens Florida Manatees
The cold spring threatened people and wildlife in the farthest reaches of the southern United States.

“A manatee calf apparently suffering from cold stress was rescued by state biologists Wednesday when it surfaced in Bayboro Harbor near the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. It was taken to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for rehabilitation,” the Tampa Bay Times reported on March 27.

“Manatees, particularly young ones, are susceptible to stress when the water temperature dips below about 65 degrees. They develop lesions on their bodies and they surface rapidly, trying to catch a breath. The calf found Wednesday was popping up about every 15 seconds rather than every five minutes,” the Times reported.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.