From Russia with warmth: Europe in December

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From Russia with warmth: Europe in December

From Russia with warmth: Europe in December
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At first sight Moscow looks completely normal. Traffic is moving, albeit slowly, the sky is grey, people are out in the streets in the rain.

The rain? This would perhaps be normal for October. But usually by this time of year the Russian capital is buried in snow and experiencing temperatures well below zero.

Not so this time. Billboard signs announcing the temperature read ’3.0 degrees’. In fact on Tuesday they reached 4.1 degrees Celsius, beating the December record of 3.3 degrees dating from 1898.

Russians are enjoying not having to wrap up as much as usual against the cold.

Ditto in France – where despite a cold July, 2011 has been the warmest since the beginning of the 20th century.

At Arcachon on the Atlantic coast in the south west, walkers on the beach – some barefoot – inscribed the unseasonably high temperature of 11 degrees in the sand.

“It makes you want to take your clothes off and dive in the water,” joked one woman on the beach.

That might be slightly excessive, but the warm, sunny weather has enabled other activities more associated with summer.

A young girl played with a bucket and spade at the water’s edge, while a boy enthusiastically licked a large ice cream.

According to forecasters at Météo France, overall temperatures in France have been 2.1 degrees above average in December, described as “very warm” but not a record.