Chaitanya's Random Pages

August 21, 2010

The Russian Heat Wave of 2010

Filed under: climate and weather,geography — ckrao @ 7:37 am

Now that the Russian heat wave appears to be over finally, it’s time to capture some of the phenomenal temperature records set. Firstly let’s focus on Moscow, the largest city to have suffered such unusual conditions.

I have plotted its maximum and minimum temperatures in Moscow over the period of the heat wave between June 20 and August 19 (2 months exactly, or 61 days). Not once did it fall below its average temperature during that period. The heat was at its worst in the three week period between July 22 and August 11, when the average maximum temperature was 35.5°C over the 21 days! The historical average maximum for June-August is 21-23°C and the average minimum 12-14°C.

  • In July 2010 the average temperature (including max and min) was 26.1°C, when the previous record for the warmest ever month in Moscow was 23.3°C! A typical July in Moscow has an average temperature of just 17°C.
  • A total of 22 date records were set for the maximum temperature. In the brutal 3 week period mentioned above, the date record was set an amazing 16 times!
  • The maximum temperature exceeded 30°C every day between July 14 and August 15… 32 straight days!
  • Prior to this year the maximum temperature ever recorded was 36.8°C way back in 1920. This temperature was exceeded no fewer than 6 times this summer (within 12 days), with the new record of 38.2°C set on July 29.
  • A temperature of at least 30°C was set 43 times this summer. To put this number in perspective, this temperature was not even reached once in all of 2009!

Turning to outside Moscow, this image from the NASA Earth Observatory shows fairly well how unusually hot it has been over a large part of western Europe during the brunt of the heat wave.

Heatwave in Russia (click to see image in new window)

Yashkul (Jaskul) near the Caspian Sea possibly recorded the highest maximum temperatures in Russia (in °C), but not as far above its average as Moscow. On the 11th of July it recorded 44.0°C, the highest ever temperature recorded in Russia. Furthermore it had the following hot streak to begin August (when its historical mean maximum is around 32°C):
42.3, 39.8, 40.4, 40.7, 40.4, 41.2, 42.2, 40.0, 40.3, 43.5, 42.5, 41.0, 39.4, 39.8, 39.9

Over the four week period between 21 July and 17 August its daily maximum was always at least 35°C with a mean maximum of 39.3°C!

Sources and further information

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