February 26, 2020

Wacky Winter Weather

Wacky Winter Weather
This winter isn't typical for Russia. Image by Wikimedia Commons

The weather has been acting unpredictably recently in Russia. This week, Muscovites can expect temperatures 30+ degrees above normal, landing at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). And they’re not the only ones who should expect surprisingly warm weather: temperatures will be about 30 degrees higher than normal in Siberia, around 20 degrees warmer in the Rostov Oblast, 15 degrees warmer in Krasnodar, and 12 degrees warmer in Yakutia.

But this week isn’t the first time Russians are experiencing warmer than usual weather. The weather has been so warm that records are being broken. Russia’s Hydrometeorological Centre recorded five consecutive record-breaking days in February, ending with February 22. The temperature reached 6.7 degrees Celsius (44 degrees Fahrenheit) at VDNKh Park, beating out the previous 1990 record of 6.6 degrees Celsius (43.8 degrees Fahrenheit). For comparison, last year, the temperature on February 22 was negative 7.5 degrees Celsius (18.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to data from Bloomberg, the abnormally high temperature is due to an unusually stable low-pressure region in the North Pole. Usually, the pressure in this area fluctuates between high and low, and it is rarely so steady. As a result, the low-pressure region blocked the usual winds that “send” cold air southwards, keeping them contained in the north. Experts at AccuWeather and Maxar report they were sure that this winter could be colder than last year, but meteorologists had no idea that the low-pressure region in the Arctic would remain for so long. Scientists have not yet determined the cause, according to the media.

The research director of Russia’s Hydrometeorological Centre, Roman Vilfand, also attributes the warm weather to a powerful heat flux from the Atlantic plus the Siberian anticyclone’s departure to China combined with the polar vortex. As a result, many countries are seeing their warmest winter in a long time, with many records being broken.

It’s hard to say if this unusual warmth will last. Yevgeny Tishkovets, the leading specialist at the Phobos weather center, stated that the trend towards warming will continue in March, although there could be some surprises towards the end of the month. On the other hand, Roman Vilfand stated that Russians should expect freezing temperatures next month. “In March, snow will still fall and the temperature will drop into the negatives. So frost is not ruled out at all,” he said.

This summer should see a return to more normal weather patterns. “Most likely, nature will try to level the situation a bit so that there is no big jump in average temperatures,” explained Andrei Kiselev, Senior Researcher at the Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory in Russia. He added that research shows a trend: if the temperature was too high in winter, then in summer it will either be average or below average, but it will not be higher than average.

Overall, if you’re traveling in Russia in the near future, be sure to bring clothing for any type of weather!

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