- 13 Dec 2006 21:22
Fake snow in Alps, Moscow blooms: green Christmas?
Tue Dec 12, 2006 1:25pm ET
GENEVA, Dec 12 (Reuters - Alpine ski resorts are churning out artificial snow, daisies are flowering by the Kremlin in Moscow and retailers are fretting that Europeans are simply too warm to go Christmas shopping with a record mild winter.
Butterflies have been seen in Denmark, some Nordic golf courses -- usually frozen for the winter -- have reopened and many farmers worry that crops are sprouting far too early and could be killed by frost.
One historian says that Europe has just had its warmest autumn in 500 years. Experts say the mildness might be just a natural freak but many suspect it may be linked to greenhouse gases caused by human burning of fossil fuels.
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Whatever the reasons, a recent dusting of snow has been welcome at Alpine resorts, now gradually opening after long delays.
"Everybody is happy that it has snowed. The whole atmosphere is more relaxed, it feels less stressed although the conditions are not totally perfect yet," said Joerg Romang, head of communications for the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
"A lot of fake snow is being produced right now," said a spokeswoman for Austria's cable car association. Temperatures may rise again but the snow is easing fears that Christmas skiers may have to spend a snowless holiday hiking or at a spa.
In Russia, record December temperatures have kept bears from hibernating and flowers such as daisies and purple violets have been seen in and around the capital. Usually gripped by ice, Moscow basked at a record 7.7 Celsius (45.86F) on December 7.
"Muscovites are smiling: they don't have to wear hats and the grass is green," wrote popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, adding that Siberia would become the world's granary if temperatures stayed warm.