As its residents seem fond of saying, Almaty has a rezko kontinental’nyi klimat—a “sharply continental climate”—meaning that it's very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. When I got here everyone kept telling me that the winters aren’t actually that bad (especially compared to the truly arctic temperatures in Astana), just very humid. The idea of a humid winter seemed completely foreign to me—I couldn’t even really conceptualize what that meant. For me, humidity is closely associated with summer (when in the Northeastern U.S. it can reach 100 percent) and the feeling of being cocooned in a warm blanket as soon as you set foot outside. It turns out wet winter air is, more than anything, hazy, so much so that you can go for days without any visual evidence of the Tian Shan peaks right outside of town.