Scientists name causes of January flood and snowless winter in Russia

Why the Yenisei River burst the banks and people and machinery massively fall through the ice in Kuybyshev Reservoir

Alarming messages about a high water level in rivers as a result of abnormally warm weather have been coming from different parts of the country since the very first days of the new year. For instance, flood in Krasnoyarsk is several months early — the Yenisei River burst the banks on the New Year holidays having inundated several settlements. 30 cars at once fell through the ice in Vladivostok near Russian Island. The water level went up in the Volga River near Kazan and cut tens of fishermen off the bank, caused rills and a mass fall of people and machinery under the ice. As Realnoe Vremya learnt from meteorologists, the impact of the Atlantic Ocean this winter has turned out to be stronger than the Siberian anti-cyclone, so this year the Epiphany severe frost will by-pass Tatarstan and some other regions. Read in our report what other miracles of nature we should wait for this abnormally warm winter.

Too dangerous ice

Employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations don’t stop warning fans of winter fishing about the unstable situation on the ice: “Due to a sudden rise in the water level in the Kuybyshev Reservoir, it is dangerous to walk and drive on the ice. The ice has a lot of rills and fractures. Several people and cars at once fell through the ice last Sunday.

“The water level is suddenly going up in the Kuybyshev Reservoir, there are numerous rills and fractures on the ice near Makarovo and Atabayevo. It is very dangerous to drive and walk on the ice in such conditions, one can overlook a fracture and fall through the ice,” Senior State Inspector of the Republic of Tatarstan in small ships Yury Venediktov said.

“The water level is suddenly going up in the Kuybyshev Reservoir, there are numerous rills and fractures on the ice near Makarova and Atabayevo. It is very dangerous to drive and walk on the ice in such conditions, one can overlook a fracture and fall through the ice,” Yury Venediktov said. Photo: mchs.tatarstan.ru

Nevertheless, specialists consider that there is no reason to panic. One should just avoid dangerous sites in rivers and correctly choose places for fishing:

“Two ice crossings have opened where cars drive on the ice. The ice is 20-30 cm thick in the reservoirs. There are rills, fractures in some places like every year. They occur when there is a stable stream and the ice is undermined underneath. Also, the temperature isn’t below zero every day, the ice doesn’t accumulate on the surface. Thaw, soft winter is a normal occurrence,” thinks head of the Hydrology Department of the Tatarstan Hydrometeorological Centre Aleksey Sokolov.

10 degrees above the average

The water level in the Kuybyshev Reservoir can be observed on the website of the service in Hydrology — the data is updated every hour. There are 20-centimetre fluctuations of water because of changes in the lock near the Chuvash village of Kozlovka on the border with Zelenodolsk District: “when the lock closes, the water falls again”.

“The water level is high now and compared to lasting indicators it is 2,5 metres above the average. This happens because the temperature outside isn’t stably below zero. I will correct the employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. It is not correct to talk about sudden rises and falls in the water. The structure of the ice got worse because of thaws, and it doesn’t augment, it doesn’t become thicker and firmer, this is why there are rills and fractures," Aleksey Sokolov stressed.

“The water level is high now and compared to lasting indicators it is 2,5 metres above the average. This happens because the temperature outside isn’t stably below zero,” Aleksey Sokolov notes. Photo: tatar-inform.ru

Director of the Department of Meteorology, Climatology and Atmospheric Environment of KFU Yury Perevedentsev forecasts the weather for January: the average temperature in Tatarstan will be -3 degrees instead of traditional -11-13 degrees:

“We still have abnormally warm weather like in December when the average temperature was 5 degrees above the average. The temperature in January will be 10 degrees above the average both in Kazan and Tatarstan, and this applies to all European part of Russia. Moreover, we also have temperatures below zero and have snow, unlike Moscow where we see a temperature above zero.”

No Epiphany severe frost?

Basing on the forecast of the Russian Hydrometeorological Centre, Yury Perevedentsev assumed that the temperature won’t be above average 8-10 degrees till late January.

“How can there be the Epiphany severe frost is such a ‘preparation’ is carried out? It is conditioned by the character of the winter. The North is cut off from us, cold air masses aren’t coming from the Kara Sea. And neither does the Siberian anti-cyclone affect us from the East, which is traditional for this season. Warm Atlantic air masses provide the unusually high temperature. We are in the southern periphery of the cyclone with warm fronts passing. And even Siberia is under influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature is 20 degrees above the average in the place where the Yenisei River burst the banks,” Yury Perevedentsev noted.

According to Kazan Federal University’s weather station, January was warm in 1992 (it was +3 degrees on 4-5 January), 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2007. The meteorologist noted that there was little precipitation this year as well. “The height of the snow at our weather station is just 13 centimetres. Just half of the monthly average was in December, and the precipitation forecasted for January isn’t enough.”

Basing on the forecast of the Russian Hydrometeorological Centre, Yury Perevedentsev assumed that the temperature won’t be above average 8-10 degrees till late January. Photo: Inna Serova

“It was about 18 degrees below zero on these days last year. The circulation of the atmosphere annually changes. This year the factors of the Siberian anti-cyclone don’t work. It can be -20 degrees next year. But the last years have been the warmest on record (since 201%). We analyse processes in the Northern Hemisphere, note a lasting tendency for growing temperature. In my opinion, global manmade climate warming is an explanation for it. This is why we have temperature records year after year — we can’t brush this fact aside. We do calculations. Now I have collected all data, I am preparing a scientific article on this topic,” Perevedentsev said.

By Yekaterina Ablayeva
Tatarstan