Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:40 PM GMT on July 19, 2010
A heat wave of unprecedented intensity has brought the world's largest country its hottest temperature in history. On July 11, 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, 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 wunderground.com forecast for Moscow calling for high temperatures between 31 - 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 1200 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 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.
Figure 2. Morning satellite image of tropical wave 97L near Puerto Rico, and another tropical wave near Jamaica.
Two tropical waves worth watching
A tropical wave passing over the Virgin Islands this morning will bring heavy rain and possible flooding to Puerto Rico today. This wave was designated Invest 97L by NHC this morning. The wave is under about 20 knots of wind shear, due to strong upper-level westerly winds. The strong upper-level winds are associated with the counter-clockwise flow of air around an upper-level cold-cored low pressure system a few hundred miles north of Puerto Rico. Satellite images of 97L show a moderate area of disorganized thunderstorms to the north of Puerto Rico, but no signs of a surface circulation, low-level spiral banding, or upper-level outflow. There is a large amount of dry air to the north of Puerto Rico that will interfere with development of 97L. As the wave progresses west to west-northwest through Wednesday, thunderstorm activity will increase, due to interaction with the upper low. The rains from these thunderstorms will bring the threat of flooding to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday and Haiti on Wednesday. The upper low will also bring high wind shear of 20 - 30 knots over the the wave through Wednesday. No development of the wave is likely until at least Wednesday, when the SHIPS model predicts shear will fall to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots. At that time, 97L will be over the eastern Bahamas and eastern Cuba. However, none of the reliable computer models is calling for tropical cyclone development over the next seven days. I expect 97L will enter the Gulf of Mexico early next week. NHC is giving 97L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to fly into 97L Tuesday afternoon, if necessary.
A second region of concern is a tropical wave in the Western Caribbean, near Jamaica. This wave is currently producing widely scattered thunderstorms, and shows no signs of organization. However, wind shear is a light 5 - 10 knots over the wave, and we need to keep an eye on this one. The wave will continue to the west at 10 - 15 mph this week, and will bring the threat of heavy rain to Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late this week. NHC is giving this wave a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday.
Figure 3. Approximate oil spill location on July 18, 2010, estimated by NOAA using visible satellite imagery from NASA's MODIS instrument and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from polar-orbiting satellites. Image credit: NOAA Satellite Services Division.
Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
East to southeast winds of 10 - 20 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Friday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting ocean currents should push the oil to the west and northwest onto the portions of the Louisiana nearest the Deepwater Horizon blowout location, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. The long range outlook is uncertain, and will depend upon what 97L does. It's a pleasant relief to look at the trajectory maps and not see the usual bull's eye of high oil concentrations at the blowout site! However, there is still plenty of oil in the Gulf that will slosh onto shore in the coming weeks and months.
Resources for the BP oil disaster
Map of oil spill location from the NOAA Satellite Services Division
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA's interactive mapping tool to overlay wind and ocean current forecasts, oil locations, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami
I'll have a new post on Tuesday.
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Light Freezing Rain Mist