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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jeff Masters' Wunderblog: Russia records its hottest temperature in history, 44.0 °C (111.2 °F) on July 11, 2010, in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic near Kazakhstan

Russia records its hottest temperature in history
by  Jeff Masters, Wunder Blog, July 19, 2010

A heat wave of unprecedented intensity has brought the world's largest country its hottest temperature in history. On July 11, 2010, the ongoing Russian heat wave sent the mercury to 44.0 °C (111.2 °F) in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic, in the European portion of Russia near the Kazakhstan border. The previous hottest temperature in Russia (not including the former Soviet republics) was the 43.8 °C (110.8 °F) reading measured at Alexander Gaj, Kalmykia Republic, on August 6, 1940. The remarkable heat in Russia this year has not been limited just to the European portion of the country -- the Asian portion of Russia also recorded its hottest temperature in history this year, a 42.3 °C (108.1 °F) reading at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record for the Asian portion of Russia was 41.7 °C (107.1 °F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for July 11, 2010, for Russia. Russia's hottest temperature in history was recorded in Yashkul, 44.0 °C (111.2 °F). This was 9-10 °C (16-18 °F) above average. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Moscow on track for its hottest July in history
According to the Russian weather service, the first fourteen days of July in Moscow averaged 6.2 °C above average. The record hottest July, in 1938, had temperatures averaging 5.3 °C above average, so Moscow is on track to set the record for its warmest July in history. The past four days, Moscow has averaged 8.2 °C above average. The heat wave peaked on July 17, 2010, when the mercury hit 35.0 °C (95 °F). Moscow's hottest temperature of all-time is 36.6 °C (98.2 °F), set in August, 1920. With the forecast for Moscow calling for high temperatures between 31 and 38 °C (88-100 °F) for the coming week, no end to the heat wave is in sight. Weather records for Moscow extend back to 1879.

Russia's remarkable heat wave has led to a state of emergency to be declared for 19 of Russia's 83 provinces, and record number of Russians have been drowning in swimming accidents as they take to the water to escape the heat. Over 1,200 Russians drowned in June, with another 233 dying between July 5 and 12. The heat has also created dangerous levels of air pollution in Moscow, and severely impacted agriculture.

Nine new national extreme heat records this year
As I commented in Friday's post, six nations in Asia and Africa set new all-time hottest temperature marks in June. Two nations, Myanmar and Pakistan, set all-time hottest temperature marks in May, including Asia's hottest temperature ever, the astonishing 53.5 °C (128.3 °F) mark set on May 26, 2010, in Pakistan. Last week's record in Russia makes nine countries this year that have recorded their hottest temperature in history, making 2010 the year with the most national extreme heat records. My source for previous all-time records is the book Extreme Weather by Chris Burt. I thank Mr. Burt and weather records researchers Maximiliano Herrera and Howard Rainford for their assistance identifying this year's new extreme temperature records.


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