The seventh of the so-called Nine-Nines—nine periods of nine days each, each period marked by some description of winter weather—began on February 14, which coincidentally was the first day of the Male Iron Tiger Year here in Mongolia. The actual moment of the New Moon was 10:52 a.m. on the 14th, so according to some interpretations the New Year began then. The Seventh of the Nine-Nines is Doviin Tolgoi Borlono, the “time when the tops of the hills become brown.” Around the beginning of the year it was still going down to the Minus 20sºF / –28sºC at night. It has warmed up a bit since then but I have not actually seen any brown hilltops yet. Yesterday it got up to 18ºF / –7º C in the afternoon and I did see some puddles of water along the road where the sun was hitting hard—a precursor of the eighth of the Nine-Nines—the “time when puddles appear on the ground”—which begins on February 23. Expect some real changes in the weather around the Full Moon on March 1.
This should provide a bit of relief from the disastrous winter experienced in some parts of Mongolia. According to Some Accounts more than two million head of livestock have died already. The only good news is that some parts of the country seem to have escaped the worst of the winter onslaught. Recent visitors to Khamariin Khiid in Dornogov Aimag and Sukhebaatar Aimag report that livestock losses in those areas have been no worse than usual.