At first, the Norilsk people lost in the fight against snowstorms: in the 1940s, up to five thousand people went out to remove snow every day, but they could not win. Snow trenches reached 15–20 meters in height, losses for the combine reached eight million rubles a year.
The railway suffered the most: the trains went off the rails, the locomotives were completely covered with snow, the machinists died, the traffic was paralyzed. As soon as the Norilsk people cleared the paths, a new blizzard began, and it seemed endless. Emergency work was carried out 15–17 times per winter.
In 1942, a research center was organized in Norilsk to study the aerodynamics of snow and wind flows. The next year it was already an experimental research station for snow protection, headed by Mikhail Potapov. He studied the wind rose and sketched schemes of snow deposition, invented new types of snow protection structures. The so called Potapov’s shields still exist along the Norilsk-Airport and Norilsk-Talnah highways.
Engineer Vladimir Poluektov was his successor. In 1955, he organized a research laboratory and a workshop for mechanized snow fighting, where he summarized all the experience accumulated earlier. The workshop was initially part of the Central motor transport office, and in 1977 it was transformed into the Department of highways and snow fighting.
Other materials of our photo project find in the History spot section.
Text: Svetlana Samokhina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive