Chelyabinsk, a Russian city just east of the Ural Mountains, has seen its fair share of odd phenomena in the last few years. Back in 2013, the area was hit by a massive meteorite “explosion” that reportedly injured more than 400 people. Now, this week, residents woke up to another surprise: blue snow:
“As the sun rose today, everyone noticed the blue rooftops, blue parking lots…we started panicking a bit”, local resident Dmitry told RT via phone. The fallout was spotted in an industrial zone on the outskirts of the city.
Some locals feared the snow was toxic — with a few saying they experienced sore throats while walking through the contaminated area. Others claimed the freakish snow smelled like iron. However, it turned out that the apocalypse wasn’t near, nor were the Smurfs slowly taking over Chelyabinsk. The blue coloring was due to an Easter egg dye spill and doesn’t pose any health concerns:
As it turned out, Viteks, a nearby food products manufacturer, had an innocuous explanation: powdered dye intended to color Easter eggs.
“The bag with food coloring wasn’t leakproof,” Olga Gribova, a company spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview. “While the package was being opened, it spilled and got into the ventilation system.” The powder swirled in the air outside, and upon landing turned the snow a shade of baby blue.
The color deepened, Ms. Gribova said, as the temperature rose — above freezing in recent days in a city where it ranges from a low of 3 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 16 Celsius) to a high of about 19 (minus 7 Celsius) this time of year.
“It has been warm in Chelyabinsk, so the snow started to melt and the color turned very bright,” she said.
Weirdly enough, this is hardly the first time Russia has seen different hues of snow. (White snow is so last year, apparently.) Per the New York Times:
About 10 days before the blue snow in Chelyabinsk, the city of Saratov experienced a storm of orange snow, which turns out to be a bit more common than blue snow, according to weather scientists.
As Mikhail Boltukhin, the head of the regional meteorological service, explained to the Lenta.ru news site, a cyclone passing over the Western Sahara had carried sand across the Crimean peninsula and over southern Russia…
The city of Omsk, in southwestern Siberia, has experienced black snow at least twice, apparently caused by pollution from a local power plant. It once “snowed” in the summer in Omsk, in August 2012, when aluminosilicate dust was released from an oil refinery.
Below, check out more photos of Chelyabinsk’s blue snow: