A Small Dictionary of St. Petersburg Summer Weather
03 August, 2017
Exciting news from St. Petersburg: yesterday, for about two hours, we were blessed with the rare and exciting opportunity to see the sun. What’s more, as I write this the sun is somehow miraculously shining, and all of us here at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg are hoping, perhaps naively, that summer has, at last, come to the city. Of course, this is wishful thinking. According to the weather forecast, we can expect another six days of rain and storms after this brief glimpse of warmth. But this is part of the charm of St. Petersburg: Petersburg wouldn’t be Petersburg without rainy, cold summers, unpredictable hailstorms, and those sweet, sweet moments of unexpected sunshine. In this small dictionary, I’ve provided some words to help you talk about all the many moods of St. Petersburg summer weather, so that you can sound legit when you complain to all your Russian friends about the endless rain. Enjoy!
A very common occurrence in St. Petersburg, моросить means “to drizzle.” If there’s a light rain falling, you can say, “сейчас моросит,” or “it’s drizzling.” Be prepared to use this word often–it drizzles, on average, about 6,000 times a day.
2. Переждать дождь
When you get stuck in the rain, as you certainly will, you’ll probably want to duck into the metro or into a coffee shop to wait it out. Переждать дождь means just that – to wait out the rain. If you’ve got plans with someone and get caught in the rain, you can
tell them “Я пережду дождь,” to let them know you’ll be a bit late. Here’s hoping that you brought your umbrella.
3. Попасть под дождь
Another way to talk about getting stuck in the rain, this one literally means “I got caught in the rain,” and is a good phrase to use if you are soaking wet and want to explain yourself. In this situation, you can say, “Я попал/а под дождь.” Again, be sure to always carry your umbrella while you’re in Petersburg, as this will happen to you on the regular.
Here I am feeling excited about the impending storm
4. Грибной дождь
The most disconcerting kind of rain, “грибной дождь,” refers to a sunshower, or when it’s raining but the sun is out. In Russian, this delightfully literally translates as “mushroom rain.” Just another one of the millions of reasons to love Russian.
A ливень is a downpour. This is more than just your average rainfall–this is an all out, raining cats and dogs, the heavens-hath-opened kind of downpour. Very common in St. Petersburg, and I repeat: always carry an umbrella.
If you’re out when град, or hail, is falling, your umbrella will unfortunately not be of much help. Hailstorms are not entirely uncommon during the summer in St. Petersburg. Just last week I was at the Gulf of Finland when a storm rolled in and we were pelted by balls of hail, and our only option was to seek shelter in our car.
A little bit of Petersburg summer hail
Another form of catastrophic weather, гроза means thunderstorm, and also happens quite frequently in Petersburg. During a гроза, you might hear some гром (thunder) and maybe even see some молния (lightning).
This is a universal term to describe bad weather. When the weather is simply not agreeable, be it rainy, cloudy, unreasonably cold, or humid, you can say that the weather is “непогода,” which literally means “not weather,” but is, ironically, basically the only kind of weather that exists in Petersburg. (For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, here’s just one more reminder to always carry an umbrella).
9. Погода налаживается
On those rare and lovely occasions when the sun comes out in Petersburg, everyone rejoices, and people might even shout joyfully that, at last, “погода налаживается,” or “the weather is improving.” Another way to express that the weather is getting better is through the verb “распогодиться,” which also means something along the lines of “the weather is clearing up.” Don’t be fooled, though – good weather can turn into a storm here in a matter of minutes.
Enjoying a rare moment of sunshine at Peterhof
The moral of the story? Always be prepared for any kind of crazy weather during your summer in Petersburg. Though we all love to complain, the rain, cloudy skies, and storms are part of what lends Petersburg its sense of magic. There’s nothing quite like wandering down one of the canals while a light rain is falling, or watching the light at sunset turn the clouds orange and pink. So the real moral of the story is: I’m not complaining about the weather. You do you, Saint Petersburg.
Emily, studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg