World Wide Weather #10: Moscow, Russia

Posted in Non-US Weather, Weather News at 10:59 pm by Rebekah

This week’s post in the global weather and climate series features Moscow, Russia (click for a Yahoo! maps link).

Moscow, Russia (click to enlarge). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The most populous city in Russia and second largest in Europe (only London’s metro is larger), Moscow is located in west central Russia, on the Moskva River.  By most definitions, Moscow is in eastern Europe rather than in Asia.  Moscow, dating back to at least the 12th century, was the capital city of the U.S.S.R. and is currently the capital of Russia.  Moscow was the site of the 1980 summer Olympic Games, which were boycotted by the United States and several western European countries.  Moscow is home to about 10.6 million people.

A few more facts about Moscow (from Wikipedia):

  • Time zone: Moscow Standard Time (UTC+3) or Moscow Summer Time (UTC+4)
  • Elevation: 512 to 837 ft above mean sea level
  • Climate zone: Humid continental (warm, somewhat humid summers and long, cold winters)
  • Average high temperature: 49 °F (9 °C)
  • Average low temperature: 35 °F (2 °C)
  • Record high temperature: 99 °F (37 °C) – recorded on 26 July 2010!
  • Record low temperature: -44 °F (-42 °C)
  • Average annual precipitation: 28 inches (700 mm)

Current weather:  Russia is currently in the midst of a record heat wave; as noted above, the all-time record high temperature in Moscow (over 130 years of records) was set yesterday, at 99.3 °F (37.4 °C), and it’s possible that that record could break yet again over the next few days.

Thursday’s GFS temperature forecast (in Celsius), for 4 pm local Moscow time (Moscow can be found just south of Belarus’ northern border and just west of Ukraine’s eastern border):

(Courtesy of Weather Online UK; click to enlarge)

Note the forecast high is for 37 to 39 °C!  Moscow’s normal high for this time of year is around 23 °C.

Why is it so hot?

I’m a little unfamiliar with Russian microclimates and geography, but one big reason is that there is a large ridge of high pressure that has built across western Russia (see 500 mb 00Z initialization of the ECMWF model, below, valid for 4 am Wednesday, local Moscow time).

(Courtesy of Weather Online UK; click to enlarge)

This ridge is associated with a surface high, seen below (for the same time as the above map).

(Courtesy of Weather Online UK; click to enlarge)

This high pressure has brought and will continue to bring, for the next several days, dry, sinking air and warm south / southeasterly winds to western Russia.

To make matters worse, there are also some 60 forest and peat fires ongoing near Moscow, covering about 145 acres, according to the BBC.  Doctors have advised residents to keep their windows closed and to wear masks to avoid inhaling ash particles as the smoke and smog is so thick.

The sinking air associated with the high pressure is a large part of the problem, as it has prevented much of the smoke from dissipating and has kept it trapped close to the surface.

For more information on Moscow, here’s a link to Wikipedia.

For weather maps and information on current and forecast Moscow weather, see Weather Online UK (collection of maps and weather information for all over the world) and the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia (Russia’s national weather service – it is in English!).

Next Tuesday I plan to take a look at the climate and weather in another part of the globe.  As always, if you have any comments or suggestions for future cities, please leave a comment on this post!

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  1. John F. Hultquist said,

    July 27, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Hi Rebekah,

    A day or so ago I read about the fires around Moscow and the area mentioned was small and in hectares. I thought that was odd as a fire that size ought not to be a big deal.

    Tonight, after reading your reference to the fire (in acres), I did some searching and found a more reasonable explanation. Maybe you could update. There is a NASA image but of the Russian east. Under the photo it claims 20,000 blazes and 400,000 hectares.


    I searched on Google with peat fires “Moscow, Russia”
    and the above link was first.

    Your blog was the 9th hit.

    Now: Why has it been so cold in South America?

  2. Rebekah said,

    July 28, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I just edited your comment to insert your search string.

    Thanks for the post, am looking into this!