Meteorological Madness: Traffic of all sorts becomes treacherous in Armenia’s heaviest snow in 28 years

Nearly two weeks of heavy snow has made Armenia a challenge for drivers, a danger for pedestrians, and extra work for doctors.

In Yerevan snow has reached a depth of about 60 centimeters and exceeds one meter in some of the republic’s regions. Meteorologist expected the snow to continue at least through today (February 10).

The head of the Meteorological Forecasts Department at the Armenian Meteorological Service Zaruhi Petrosyan says this has been an “unexpectedly snowy” winter. (The average accumulation during this time of year is 3-10 centimeters.)

Petrosyan says such precipitation has been registered only in 1942 and 1978. Meteorologists also say that Yerevan is experiencing its deepest snow in 100 years.

“No unusual change of temperature compared to previous years has been registered, but the heavy snowfall and its depth are really unexpected in Armenia,” says Petrosyan.

Children are happily turning neighborhoods into snowball battlegrounds. Heavy snows last weekend forced artists at Yerevan’s “painter’s vernisage” to abandon their sales, but not before they sculpted a large snow woman as a partner for the Sarian statue on the site.

But the slippery stuff has becomes something less joyful for street cleaners and other utility workers, now cursed by their fellow citizens for losing the snow fight.

“Our nation should not stand only in the position of demanding,” says head of the Construction, Improvement and Communal Service at the Yerevan Municipality Frunz Basentsyan. “Everyone should think of helping the authorities in his turn.”

He blesses the times when enterprises and institutions, universities and schools were taking part in helping out in such situations.

“This year the situation is extreme. The community administrations work as much as they can,” Basentsyan says. “But our means do not allow us to clean the whole city. During one day we deal with 60 cm deep snow.”

And fighting the “60 cm deep snow”, Basentsyan says, needs almost 350 snowplows for effectiveness, while there are only 100 available.

As a result, the deep snow makes roads impassible, mountains out of sidewalks and deadly icicles hang from roofs.

According to the Municipality information during the last several days, more than 110 trees have been broken because of wet and heavy snow. Roofs of 5 houses and a gas station have collapsed.

City medical institutions see the effects of the weather in broken bones and trauma caused by falling or from dropping ice.

Emergency clinic director Artyom Petrosyan says his office seen 10 to 15 people a day, a third of whom have been injured due to the weather.

Doctor Petrosyan says residents should avoid walking under building over-hangs, as falling ice can cause serious injury or even death.

And though the meteorologists do not forecast what will be the result of the increase in temperature, the Municipality has formed a new commission to fight the spring floods that will result from the winter snow.

“If you see streams running in the streets when the weather changes, don’t be surprised,” says Basentsyan.