Snow is white. Any other color is not right. Grey means cars have been through it. Yellow means dogs have been through it. Black means you slipped, fell and are lying face down in it. What does orange snow mean? That’s the question being asked across Eastern Europe as Russia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine are digging out from under a blanket of bright orange snow that stretches to the Black Sea. This has ski resort owners seeing red because skiers don’t want to spend their green stuff to slalom on orange stuff that reminds some of the landscape of the Red Planet. Is this a sign of the O-pocalypse? (More pictures here and here.)
The “nothing to worry about” crowd (i.e. the government and weather reporters) are telling people wondering if this orange snow is safe to touch, shovel, lick, make into an orange snowman or treat like ordinary white stuff that the color comes from the sands of the Sahara Desert – specifically, a Saharan sandstorm kicked up by a recent cyclone in northern Africa. For backup, they used NASA satellite images showing sand in the upper levels of the atmosphere. And it’s true … this is a condition that has happened before under similar circumstances. For example, orange snow blanketed Saratov in far western Russian in 2015 and was also blamed on Saharan sand.
But never in Romania. Why is this orange snow falling in eastern Europe? Is some world power testing a new form of weather control weapon? That’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Doctors in Romania are warning residents — particularly the elderly or those with respiratory conditions, asthma or allergies — to stay indoors for a few days until the snow melts. The danger doesn’t end there as the melted snow fills bodies of water used for drinking or food. While the first suspect might be Russia, one of the heaviest concentrations or the orange snow fell in Sochi, the beautiful Russian city which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. Was this an experiment gone wrong? Or is some other country to blame?
The mysterious Siberian orange snow of 2007 was also blamed on sand – this time from Kazakhstan — even though many residents and government inspectors admitted it smelled bad, felt oily and had a high lead content – not exactly sno-cone worthy. While industrial pollution was suspected, residents were told that it would be “difficult” to identify the guilty party. Again, that orange snow was deemed “safe” but farmers were still advised not to let their animals walk in it or drink it.
Pictures from various resorts show people skiing in the orange snow. Have we really become so conditioned to accept unusual weather that we no longer care to wait for answers? Will resort owners start advertising odd-colored snow as a new feature?
When it comes to the chance of getting a straight answer from the powers that be about this mysterious snow, is orange the new bleak?