Russian officials have spent the last 24 hours attempting to reassure Moscow residents that green-tinged clouds over the capital were not an alien invasion, but tree pollen. The clouds crept up on the Russian capital from the south in the morning and reached the centre by the afternoon, causing office workers to gawk at the suspiciously coloured sky.
“Today Muscovites felt like characters in a disaster film about an alien invasion: people living in the south-west of the city saw that the sky had been coloured green,” Russia’s weather service said on its website. The odd natural phenomenon mystically coincided with the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which caused further speculation about the authorities withholding information ::::
“Green clouds are coming toward Moscow,” the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid headlined its story. “Could it be that the apocalypse is upon us?”
A thin layer of green pollen also covered streets and cars. Many residents in the Moscow region apparently called emergency services in a panic, leading officials to say the air was thick with tree pollen, not disaster fallout.
“Many residents forgot all about natural phenomena and decided that it’s the result of an accident at an industrial facility,” said a city official in Podolsk, an industrial town south of Moscow “…dust is pollen from alder and birch trees which began flowering recently after a slow spring.”
[russia today video]
[russia today video]
Birch and Alder pollen can fly up to an altitude of 10,000 meters and stay there for up to a month unless the rain washes it away, said botanist Vladimir Murashov, an expert with Moscow State University. Forecasts promised sunny weather in Moscow throughout the remainder of the week.
Moscow emergency services said the sudden onset of spring and rapidly rising temperatures “caused blooming of several species of trees and resulted in a yellow-green pollen coating over pavement, windows, and cars”.
“The pollen poses danger to people suffering from allergies and asthma, for others it’s only seasonal discomfort,” the ministry said.
Popular Russian news outlet RT reported that some residents got so scared that even the official comments could not convince them the the clouds were a natural phenomena.
Russian Twitter users have been posting alarming messages like “Moscow schools are closed because of the blast! Children are sent home,” “Sky has turned completely green in Moscow’s south!” and “The factory in Kaluga is destroyed!” A flood of emergency calls was also registered. Others believe that the authorities are hiding information from the public: “Pollen is just an excuse. It might as well be the beginning of the Apocalypse!” one popular Russian blogger posted to his readers.
The odd natural phenomenon mystically coincided with the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which caused further speculation about the authorities withholding information.