2007 Siberian orange snow

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The Siberian orange snow of 2007 was an anomalous phenomenon that occurred in early February, 2007. Beginning on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 an orange-tinted snow fell across an area of 1,500 square kilometres (580 sq mi) in Omsk Oblast, Siberian Federal District, Russia, approximately 1,400 miles from Moscow, as well as into the neighboring Oblasts of Tomsk and Tyumen. It was unclear what caused the orange snow. Speculation ranged from pollutants to a storm in neighboring Kazakhstan.[1]


The orange snow was malodorous, oily to the touch, and reported to contain four times the normal level of iron. Though mostly orange, some of the snow was red or yellow. It affected an area with about 27,000 residents. It was originally speculated that it was caused by industrial pollution, a rocket launch or even a nuclear accident. It was later determined that the snow was non-toxic; however, people in the region were advised not to use the snow or allow animals to feed upon it.[2] Colored snow is uncommon in Russia but not unheard of, as there have been many cases of black,[3] blue,[4] green and red snowfall.

Possible causes[edit]

This orange snow may have been caused by a heavy sandstorm in neighboring Kazakhstan. Tests on the snow revealed numerous sand and clay dust particles, which were blown into Russia in the upper stratosphere.[3] The speculation that the coloration was caused by a rocket launch from Baikonur in Kazakhstan[1] was later dismissed, as the last launch before the event took place on 18 January.[5]

Russia's environmental watchdog originally claimed that the colored snowfall was caused by industrial pollution, such as "waste from metallurgical plants."[3] It stated that the snow contained four times the normal quantities of acids, nitrates, and iron. However, it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint a culprit if pollution were the cause, as there are various industries nearby, such as the city of Omsk, which is a center of the oil industry in Russia.[3]


  1. ^ a b Harding, Luke (2 February 2007). "Orange snow causes concern in Siberia". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "Russia probes smelly orange snow". BBC. 2 February 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d Blomfield, Adrian (3 February 2007). "'Putrid' orange snow falls in Siberia". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  4. ^ "ZetaTalk Chat Q&A for February 21, 2015". Zetatalk. 21 February 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "Soyuz rocket missions in 2007". Russian Space Web. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 2007 Jan. 18: Russia launched its first space mission of 2007, sending a 7,290-kilogram cargo ship toward the International Space Station, ISS. The Soyuz U rocket, carrying the Progress M-59 spacecraft, lifted off from Site-1 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on January 18, 2007, at 05:12:13 Moscow Time (02:12 UTC; 09:12 p.m. EST on Jan 17)