Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dressing for the cold

We've been here just a few days, but the weather has changed multiple times every day.

The night we arrived we had to walk through slush to get to the car - it was 5 degrees Celsius and the snow on the ground was melting to puddles of slush. But not salty slush! Due to Astana's high water table, there are concerns that road salt will contaminate the water and kill the new city's many young trees. Look for scattered sand or finely crushed stone to provide some friction between your footwear and the icy ground.

The next day it was a preview of January... blowing snow and 42 mph winds! Astana's record low recorded temperature is -59 degrees Fahrenheit!

Temperatures have otherwise varied from -2 degrees Fahrenheit to the high 30s (hardly L.A. weather, but it has felt warmer).

We are still learning how the locals dress for the cold.  Our apartment looks over a pretty busy street and as we're on the 5th floor we can see people walking down the sidewalk or waiting at the bus shelter any time we are about to head out.

The most common coat for men seems to be a black or blue down parka with a fur-trimmed hood.  For women it's a black down insulated knee-length coat with a belt and some fur trim.

Lots of boots - dressy, Uggs, and snow boots.

Many people wear gloves if it gets below 30 degrees. But the one thing that's universal is hats!  Everyone is wearing a hat at every temperature so far. And many of them are fabulous, frothy fur confections.

For men, it's variations of the ushanka.

For women, it's the Cossack hat. A round pillbox.

We still have to figure out what goes on the feet...there is serious ice out there!

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