The city infrastructure of Tashkent is struggling with this extremely cold weather. Due to the low temperatures, people are using lots of gas and electricity to heat their homes and apartments. The stress on the infrastructure is causing city officials and companies to ration natural gas and electricity use. On my walks and drives around the city, I noticed about half of the city street lights were functioning. Many of the stoplights were also not working. Luckily, there is not much traffic in the city, partly because of the icy road conditions and lack of sales of natural gas to filling stations. Many cars in Uzbekistan use natural gas instead of gasoline because it is cheaper.
In our house, we have about 80% electricity. One of the three input lines is out and that has caused 2 of our air conditioning/heating units to stop working. We also have low gas pressure but we can still cook and take warm showers.
Uzhydromet, the National Weather Service of Uzbekistan, published some historical weather data. A temperature of -19.9 C was officially recorded yesterday, January 13 in the morning. This is the coldest temperature recorded in the past 50 years, topping the 2007-2008 winter low of -17.4 C. The coldest-ever temperature recorded in Tashkent was -29.5 C in 1930 but I would question the accuracy of that measurement from so long ago.
Regarding snow cover, the maximum amount of snow Tashkent received is 54 cm in that terrible winter of 1969. So far this year, Tashkent received 26 cm. For comparison, Marquette, Michigan, home of Northern Michigan University averages 400 cm per winter.
The cold air mass is slowly moving east and is being pushed out by another, slightly warmer air mass coming from the Caspian Sea region. Temperatures will still be below zero C, but not the bitter cold we are experiencing. I think tomorrow is the last day of the severe cold! This cold air mass came from the northwest of far northern Russia and settled into Central Asia. My colleagues in Kyrgystan and Azerbaijan are also experiencing cold temperatures at their schools.
I was hoping to make the news in the photo below of the waiting area for arrivals INSIDE the terminal at the airport. I went to the airport on Saturday morning to collect a teacher and take him to his hotel. Airports in Central Asia make people wait outside the terminal, but because it was so cold, airport officials cordoned off a small section of the terminal to allow people to wait in the warmth of the building. When I was there early Saturday, it was not as crowded as below, but it may be an area to catch a cold and/or flu.
It was also a sad day today as we said goodbye to Owen. He boarded a flight to Istanbul this afternoon and is heading back to university. We will next see him in May, hopefully, when he is done with the semester.