It snowed throughout the night in Moscow last Wednesday and snowed on and off up until yesterday. The late summer warmth that had lingered for so long in western Russia was swept away dramatically - two weeks earlier than last year.

The cold air that caused this sudden change of season for Moscow had been blowing across northern Europe throughout the past week. The wind had been cold, but beyond Russia, it had been too dry to bring snow. Temperatures have, however, dropped dramatically in its wake:

Minsk shivered down to a 4 degree Celsius daytime "high"; Warsaw went down to 6C with a wind-chill; Berlin managed 9C, but also with a wind-chill. Yesterday, Amsterdam failed to reach 10C for the first time since April.

This week, a big Mediterranean storm system swept vast amounts of rain into southeastern Europe, causing flooding in Italy, Albania and Macedonia. This weather then fed into the cold air over Slovakia and Poland and - rather than rain - snow started to fall.

The Tatras mountains rapidly accumulated 12cm of snow during Sunday night. Zakopane, with an elevation of about 900 metres, in southern Poland saw a day of snow on Monday, accumulating 10cm. Krakow, only 240 metres above sea level, also saw snow. 

Many parts of Poland were blanketed on Monday, causing traffic disruptions, and in Swietokrzyskie province, at least one fatal accident.

In Asia too, snow has arrived early for some. Amid retreating monsoon rains, now over southwestern China, cold air has been drawn into the mix. As a result, snow has blanketed many parts of Yunnan Province, falling about one month earlier than the usual.

The harsh weather hit places like Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qujing, Lijiang and Zhaotong cities. It accumulated to a depth of 20cm on Cangshan Mountain, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

"It's a surprise. My tour guide said at the mountain foot there was no snow, but then it snowed. I am very excited," said a visitor.

Mount Fuji, Japan's picturesque mountain, was capped by snow on Sunday for the first time this autumn. This is five days earlier than last year, but eleven days later than usual.

Winter is clearly knocking on the door in Asia and Europe; Though a little early, it had arrived fairly gently - at least for the time being.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies