RUSSIAN HEARTLAND SIZZLES
It has now happened. The heat wave that has gripped the heart of Russia for most of the summer thus far has toppled the all-time high temperature record for the city of Moscow.
That new high mark is 37.5 C, or 99.5 F, which was reached on Monday afternoon. The former record was 36.8 C, which was set on August 7, 1920.
Naturally, the July monthly record high also fell. This had been 36.7 C, set in 1936.
An interesting aside in seeing the year of July's former record. The year 1936 is notorious in the United States for its severe heat waves and "Dust Bowl" drought, which brought hunger and social upheaval to the Great Plains.
HOTTEST MONTH OF JULY
Even before the month has drawn to a close, the media in Russia are already saying that this is the hottest month of July on record in Moscow, a record spanning 130 years. Of course, how far above normal will not be known until after Saturday, the last day of the month.
At least through Monday, July 26, the month to date was hotter than normal by 7.8 C, or 14.1 F.
For the summer thus far, the numbers are about as striking: 7.2 C (12.9 F) above normal.
MORE HEAT ON THE WAY, BUT SOME RELIEF IN SIGHT
Today, Tuesday, was another day of striking heat, as it registered 35.7 C in Moscow.
Another two blistering days are on the way, as both Wednesday and Thursday should top 35 C.
Another day of 37 C to even 38 C is possible, too.
A weak cold front from the west will trim the heat beginning on Friday. To restate: that is "trim the heat", not any return to near normal. At least not anytime soon.
THE BROADER PICTURE
Summer temperature departure, thus far, over most of European Russia, has be exceptional, if not unprecedented, for the warm season. "Cooler" spots, with respect to normal, have been abnormally warm, at 3 C to 4 C above normal.
I do not know what the upper end of the range is. Moscow must be amongst the hottest of the hot, but hotter still is St Petersburg, at 7.5 C above normal.
It is useful to bear in mind that temperature departures for time spans of a month or more, when they are as great as shown here, are almost invariably registered during cold months. There is simply a greater potential temperature range during winter than during summer in mid- to high-latitude climates such as Russia's.
That trimming of heat that will reach Moscow and far-western Moscow late in the week is unlikely to reach as far as the lower Volga River, where numerical forecast models are forecasting another week of 15 C and even 20 C above normal.
IT'S A DROUGHT, TOO
Only 13 mm of rain, or 18 percent of normal amount, has fallen since the start of summer in Moscow. Normally, an average of 88 mm would have fallen as of the 26th of July.
Elsewhere, most of Russia westward from the Ural Mountains has had 10 percent to 30 percent of normal summer rainfall. Normal to above normal rain, however, has happened in the Arctic and along some southern and western borders.
The areas likely to stay extremely hot during the coming week will also have little or no rain, so the drought, and with it consequences for crops and water supply, will tend to worsen.
HEAT IN FAR-NORTHEAST SIBERIA
Another highest temperature of my recollection. This one, 33.8 C was set today, Tuesday the 27th, in Oymyakon, Sakha Republic (or Yakutiya).
Oymyakon is known as one of the world's coldest two settlements (the other being Verkhoyansk). It can and does get hot here in the Siberian "Pole of Cold." Witness the six days of 34 C (highest 35.3 C) at Verkhoyansk thus far in July, 2010.
Yet a scan of our AccuWeather.com database shows a highest temperature of 33.3 C set on July 23, 2003. Normal high for the date is 17.8 C.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Magadan, Semychan and Korkodon reached about 36 C Tuesday. Really hot.
I would look for more extreme highs out of the area for another few days.
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