Russia: MoscowShakes off Cold Reputation with Heat Wave: Near Record Temperatures Agence
24 July 2002
Moscow Russia’s capital is on course for the hottest July since weatherstatistics began in 1870, leaving Muscovites struggling to cope with thesweltering heat and in some cases dying from jumping into water whileinebriated.
Thedirector of the Russian weather service, Roman Vilfond, said that a similarheatwave had occurred only twice before, in 1938 and 1972, when swelteringtemperatures lasted for 13 straight days.
Thethermometer has been hovering around 30°C since 11 July 2002. “The currentheatwave is forecast to last until the end of the week,” Vilfond said.
Yesterdaynarrowly avoided setting a record for the hottest July 23rd on record, withtemperatures rising to 32.5°C. The previous record of 32.8°Cwas set in 1882 and 1885.
Theheatwave claimed further victims from drowning, with seven people dying whileswimming in Moscow’s rivers and ponds over the past 24 hour period,bringing the summer’s toll to 168. Each year brings drownings as the city’sresidents take to the water to cool off, often after drinking heavily. Last yearover the same period 225 people died in this way.
Inthe city centre, local residents and tourists from other parts of Russia triedto get some respite by splashing water on their faces and arms from fountains.
Natalya,a woman from Blagoveshchensk in the Russian Far East, sitting next to herdaughter eating ice-cream in Manezhnaya Square with their backs to a fountain,said she enjoyed the scorching weather.”It’sgreat, it’s nearly always cold where we live. Coming to Moscow is like going tothe seaside,” she said.
Theheatwave is also making the air increasingly toxic in a city which is alreadyconsidered the most polluted in Europe because of traffic fumes and industrialgases that cause lung illnesses among the 10 million residents.
Someexperts have warned that ozone levels are rising to dangerous levels, on somedays more than twice the norm, though city authorities denied any risk to thepopulation.