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    Russia Suffers Severe Heat, Drought

    By Jim Andrews, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist
    July 14, 2010, 7:44:47 AM EDT

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    Severe heat, made worse in areas by drought, has already gripped a wide swath of the Russian heartland since the first of summer, and prospects are for even more of the abnormal heat.

    Health, water supply and crops have all taken a hit in many areas.

    Average temperatures for the summer so far have been at least 10 F above normal between the western borders and the Ural Mountains. Moscow, for instance, has tallied more than 10 F above normal has of July 13. In Saint Petersburg, the average temperature since the start of summer has been almost 12 F above normal.

    Readings as high as 92 F in Moscow and 90 F in Saint Petersburg have broken records.

    Other regions have fared worse.

    Regions between Moscow and the Caucasus region have reached 95 F and, along the lower Volga River, even as high as 105 F, during July with more such heat forecast for the coming days. Normally scanty, early summer rain in southern Russia has fallen even further short of usual.

    Some bigger cities weathering the highest temperatures are Lipetsk, Tambov, Ryazan, Kursk and Voronezh.

    The Russian Prime Minister has spoken the words "disaster" and "drought" in describing the situation.

    Government health officials have called on people to take an afternoon break, or siesta, to limit strenuous work and sun exposure during the hottest part of the day. Already, health effects have included heat stroke and severe sunburn as well as the compounding of effects from such conditions as diabetes and heart problems.

    The Russian Army has even halted, temporarily, the use of incendiary ammunition in training exercises. It also relaxed the dress code for soldiers to lessen the heat discomfort.

    Crop losses have mounted across what is one of the world's top breadbaskets, an agricultural belt that yielded a 97-million metric ton grain harvest in 2009. One spokesman for Russian agriculture has stated that drought, made worse by the heat, has laid waste to 9 million out of 48 million hectares of planted land.

    Little relief is in sight. For the next seven days, for instance, average temperatures will be 5 F to 10 F above normal over nearly all of European Russia with temperatures likely to hold well above normal during the following week.

    At least one week of below normal, even zero, rainfall is also in the offing over a vast area.

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