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UPDATE 7/24: Heat Wave Continues in Siberia

By: Christopher C. Burt, 7:54 PM GMT on July 22, 2013

UPDATE July 24th: Heat Wave continues in Siberia

The extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented heat wave continues in the central arctic region of Russia. Some locations have now endured 10 consecutive days above 30°C (86°F). Wildfires are erupting in the taiga forests (see more about this in the comments section following this blog). Norilsk maximum daily temperatures have cooled down a little, but yesterday (July 23rd) it enjoyed its warmest night so far with a low of 20.2°C (68.4°F).

Norilsk, with a population of 175,000, is located at 69° 20’N and 88° 6’E and is the most northerly city in the world with a population over 100,000.

Norilsk is a large city of some 175,000 located in the Arctic region of central Russia near 70° N latitude. It is the largest, most northerly city in the world. Photo by Mikhail Shlemov.

It has long been a mining center (and gulag during the Stalin years) located in the far northeast of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai Region. For the past week temperatures have been running as much as 10-15°C above normal throughout the central arctic region of Russia. The 32.0°C (89.6°F) measured at Norilsk on July 21st would appear to be short of the city's warmest temperature on record which was 32.2°C (90°F) on two previous occasions.

Monthly climate data for Norilsk, Russia. Weatherbase on Wikapedia.com. However, the POR for this data may be just for the past 30 years and other sources say the city has seen temperatures as warm as 32.2°C in the past.

Weather data for the past month at Norilsk as of July 23rd (the date on the table is observation date for previous 24 hours). Note the minimum temperature of 20.2°C (68.4°F) on July 23rd! OGIMET data.

Svetlogorsk, just above the Arctic Circle at 66° 56'N, has now endure an astonishing 10 consecutive days above 30°C (86°F) as of July 23rd and had a run of three consecutive days above 90°F (32.2°C).

Weather data for the past month at Svetlogorsk located just about on the Arctic Circle (at 66° 50'N and 88° 24'E in the Krasnoyarsk Krai region like Norilsk). Note the amazing endurance of this heat event. The complete METARS data was missing for the July 14th observations but at 6 a.m. UTC (about 10 or 11 a.m. local time) it was 27°C (80.5°F), so the high for that day was probably around 28-29°C (83°-85°F). The normal daily high temperatures for this site the last half of July are around 20°C (68°F). OGIMET data.

The prolonged heat wave is the result of an amazingly intense and prolonged heat dome that has centered itself over north central Siberia. The anomalous temperature heights are some 2-3 sigmas above normal.

500 mb heights and anomaly map for July 21st when the hat dome was at its strongest. Thanks to Stu Ostro who submitted this graphic in one of his comments on an earlier version of this blog.

Hottest temperatures ever measured so far north?

It remains unclear whether or not any all-time records have been broken at any sites in Russia the past few weeks or if these are the highest temperatures ever observed at so northerly a latitude. The warmest temperature in the region I have been able to view so far was a 34.2°C (93.6°F) at Korliki on July 17th. This site, however, is located at just 61° 32'N. According to OGIMET the temperature reached 34.0°C (93.2°F) at Snezhnogorsk and Igarka on July 21st , both sites just a bit south of Norilsk. Snezhnogorsk is located at 68° 6'N and 87° 46'E and Igarka at 67° 28'N, 86° 34'E. These sites are just a bit south of the latitude of Umiat, Alaska (at 69° 22' N) where a maximum of 92°F (33.3°C) has been recorded in the past. There is a temperature reading of 36.7°C (98.1°F) in July 1979 reported from Hatanga, Russia which rests at 71° 58'N (about 400 miles northeast of Norilsk). This is a very anomalous reading and may have been the result of a foen-like wind event (down sloping wind heated by compression, like Santa Ana winds in the U.S.). IF the figure is accurate, then this would be, by far, the warmest temperature ever measured on earth at such a northerly latitude.

This Russian Arctic heat wave is still on going and I’ll post updates if necessary.

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for bringing the heat wave in central arctic Russia to my attention.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.