Russia is going through its worst drought in more than a century. In Moscow, it’s hotter than in European and African resorts. The heat has caused asphalt to melt, boosted sales of air conditioners, ventilators, ice cream and beverages, and pushed grain prices up. Environmentalists are blaming the abnormally dry spell on climate change.
On ‘black’ Saturday, temperatures in Moscow hit a record high of 38 degrees Celsius with little relief at night, making this July the hottest month in 130 years. The average temperature in central Russia is 9 degrees above the seasonal norm.
Official reports indicated that 25 people drowned in the last 72 hours while cooling in rivers, pools and lakes. Since the heat spell started in mid June 507 deaths have been reported.
The heat wave has triggered forest fires and destroyed millions of hectares of crops. Pavel Skurikhin, President of the National Union of Grain Producers, forecasts this year’s grain harvest at 80 million tons, a 20-25% fall on last year, but still quite sufficient to meet domestic demand.
Meanwhile, Russia’s grain export potential has been downgraded from 20 million to 15 million tons.
“Certainly, such a long period of hot weather in unusual for central Russia. But the global tendency proves that in future, such climate abnormalities will become only more frequent”, says Alexey Kokorin, the Head of Climate and Energy Program of the World Wide Fund (WWF) Russia.
”I think that the heat we are suffering from now as well as very low temperatures we had this winter, are hydro-meteorological tendencies that are equally harmful for us as they both were caused by human impact on weather and the greenhouse effect which has grown steadily for the past 30-40 years. Besides, if 15 years ago we registered only 150-200 negative climate alterations, now we are facing 350-400, mainly storms, hurricanes, floods, heavy snowfalls, which are all very harmful”, said Alexey Kokorin.
Doctors are advising Russians to keep hydrated by drinking more water, spending less time exposed to the sun and showering whenever possible.
Meteorologists forecast Russia will remain in the grip of hot weather for the rest of this week. (The Voice of Russia).