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May 29, 2007
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Moscow Swelters in Heat Wave
// High-Pressure System from Kazakhstan Fuels Record Temperatures in Moscow
Yesterday was the hottest May day in Moscow for over a century: thermometers on May 27 read +32.9 degrees Celsius (91.2 degrees Fahrenheit), and meteorologists say that the Russian capital has not seen such a sustained streak of +30-degree days in May for 128 years. Due to the heat, some Moscow businesses are being obliged to cut down on energy consumption, something that usually only happens during winter's most severe frosts. Meteorologists warn that the heat will last at least until the end of the week, when Moscow will get a brief reprieve before the abnormally hot weather returns.
At a weather station in a northeastern district of Moscow, thermometers yesterday registered an air temperature of +32.9 deg. C at 16:00. At the same time, according to Meteo-TV, a region in the center of the city just south of the Moscow River was experiencing temperatures of +35.8 deg. C. "For the last week Ц May 23, 27, and 28 Ц several temperature records have been broken," Phobos Center analyst Leonid Starkov told Kommersant. "On Monday, an absolute temperature record for May was set, breaking the record of +31.8 deg. C that was registered in 1891," he said. "Approximately the same temperatures can be expected to persist until the end of the week Ц not since 1879 have we seen a situation when temperatures in May exceeded +30 deg. C (90 deg. F) for five days in a row. It's really an extreme event," said Moscow Weather Bureau spokeswoman Tatiana Pozdnyakova.

According to Ms. Pozdnyakova, the unusual heat is due to a massive high-pressure system sitting over Kazakhstan. "As it revolves, it is sending hot air from Central Asia to Russia," she explained. "As a result of the high-pressure system, all of European Russia is experiencing hot weather Ц since last week, every other city in this region has seen new temperature records set," added Mr. Starkov. "Moscow is experiencing almost the same temperature as in Cairo or the Arabian Desert," he said.

"We are prepared for the possibility that people may start to suffer from heat stroke if the temperature does not drop," said Inpromed EMT Alexander Bulovsky. The company's medical personnel told Kommersant that the number of calls from people suffering from cardiovascular disease or respiratory ailments has increased by about 50 percent over the last week and a half.

"In such weather, it is very important for people to be careful in planning physical and emotional activities," warned Russian Academy of Sciences Cardiology Center director Lev Bokeriya. "People with hypertension or diabetes should take a warm shower two or three times a day. People who are very sensitive to heat might want to consider taking medication to keep the situation under control," he suggested.

Meanwhile, the heat wave has led Russia's unified energy systems administrator, Sistemnyi Operator, to introduce restrictions on energy usage by non-domestic consumers. This is the first time that such restrictions have been necessary in the summer Ц usually they are a means of dealing with a high demand for energy as people try to heat their houses and businesses during the coldest days of winter. "The limit will be introduced for industrial facilities on Tuesday from 9 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon," explained Mosenergosbyt power company general director Sergei Kozlovsky. According to Mr. Kozlovsky, all of the companies affected by the restriction have already been notified. UES Russia manager Andrei Trapeznikov told Kommersant that the restrictions are due to the fact that the unprecedented temperatures have coincided with a period of repair of the city's power supply grid. "During such a heat wave, the electrical grid cannot be turned off normally for repair," he said, adding that "in such weather, if one circuit breaks, the next one inevitably begins to suffer from overloading." The company's electricians have said that they are already considering plans to restore full power to all consumers.

Mosenergo spokesman Vasily Zakharov told Kommersant that the company is watching the weather carefully, since "such heat brings a high risk of oil-cooled transformers 'boiling' and blowing out." The Russian Emergencies Ministry said that 14 transformer substations belonging to the Moscow Municipal Electric Power Company began to smoke and/or caught fire in Moscow on Monday.

Meteorologists predict that the heat will begin to subside only towards the weekend. "On Tuesday, the temperature will be 31-33 deg. C, and it will remain 32-34 deg. C until the weekend," said Tatiana Pozdnyakova. "It will cool off slightly on Saturday as the hot high-pressure system moves east," said Leonid Starkov. "It will be replaced with an Arctic high-pressure system moving in from Greenland that will bring thunderstorms. However, thin cloud cover will mean that the air will warm up quickly again, and the temperature will remain steady at 25 deg. C for the duration of next week," he predicted.

Ivan Buranov, Anna Geroyeva, Alyona Kornysheva

All the Article in Russian as of May 29, 2007

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