Earlier this year, the polar vortex left vast swathes of North America covered in a glistening blanket of ghostly white snow and ice. Now, in some parts of Siberia, snow is taking a gothic turn.
Morticia Adams might approve of the development, but as beautifully surreal as it may seem, this black snow has a sinister side.
It has been spotted in the Kemerovo region of southwest Siberia in the Kuznetsk Basin, the country's coal-mining center. Indeed, the region's economy and identity is so dominated by coal that the Krasnaya Gorka, an indoor/outdoor coal mining museum, is listed as one of the Kemerovo's top attractions.
While the area's rich resources may have served residents well from a job perspective, it is also a major cause of pollution. Hence, the black snow showering cities Prokopyevsk, Kiselyovsk, and Leninsk this week.
People are currently pointing fingers at a nearby coal plant. According to reports, the plant has failed to sufficiently filter fumes. Andrei Panov, the deputy governor of Kemerovo region, also blames coal boilers, car exhausts, and other coal plants.
It is not the first time Kemerovo's residents have witnessed such a phenomenon. Only in December, officials were suspected of painting the snow white to conceal the dust and dirt that had turned it a grimy shade of gray.
And it's not just Russia. Temirtau, an iron-mining region in central Kazakhstan, was covered in black snow earlier this year.
In response, residents sent Aliya Nazarbayeva, head of the Association of Ecological Organisations of Kazakhstan (and the youngest daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbayev) a letter, writing "The snow acts as a litmus test, revealing the frightening scale of these harmful emissions." Adding, "All that dust from the plant ends up in our lungs, and in the lungs of our kids."