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Putin orders weather forecasters not to play game of guessing

07.04.2011
 

While those people living on the European part of Russia enjoy the coming of spring and sunshine, meteorologists are working on their forecasts for the upcoming summer. Many Russians will never forget the summer of 2010, when the vast central territory of the country was suffocating in sweltering heat, smog and smoke from forest fires. It is an open secret that it is very hard and even impossible to predict what mother nature has in store for us. However, it is possible to minimize the consequences of what may happen.

The head of Russia's Meteorological Center, Roman Vilfand, is certain that unbearable heat will not not hit the country again this year.

"I can say for sure that there will be no extremely hot summer in Central Russia this year," he told reporters. However, the current temperatures are two or three degrees above the climate norm, he added.

The precision of weather forecasters in Russia became a subject for countless jokes a long time ago. There is a person in the country, though, who may not like another joke about the weather.

"We need an effective system for preventing natural disasters and states of emergency. A precise, correct and timely forecast gives us a possibility to minimize losses," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said addressing the administration of the Meteorological Center in the first place.

Last year, the Center developed an activity strategy in the field of hydrometeorology up until 2030. The goal of the strategy is to create state-of-the-art weather service in the country.

Vladimir Putin became acquainted with the first stage of this work two days ago. The prime minister was introduced to the first digital doppler meteorological radar DMRL-S. The radar is capable of sharing weather information with everyone in the radius of 250 kilometers every ten minutes. There will be 140 of such weather stations installed across the nation during the forthcoming five years.

Roman Vilfand is very optimistic about it. The system of radars, he says, will let the weather service predict various natural disasters four or five days in advance. Nowadays, forecasters resort to such vague notions as "abundant precipitation" promising them on beautiful sunny days at times. In the nearest future, the new radars will help them distinguish between snow, rain, hail, etc.

One radar station like that costs 90 million rubles ($3 million). It goes without saying that Putin expects a result against the background of such an investment. "Do you remember that children's game - "Can you guess"? I hope you won't be playing it now?" Putin asked Russian meteorologists.

Alexander Frolov, a senior official with the Russian Weather Service, is certain that uncertainty will remain always. "A weather forecast is a complicated system of equations," he said.

Well, they always like to play that game of guessing in Russia. This is probably the game that Russian officials like most.

"Last year, which was an anomalous year in Russia, there were 1,7 thousand warnings about dangerous natural phenomena issued. Ninety percent of them was justified. By 2020, we have a goal to increase the index to the level of 95 percent," Alexander Frolov told the prime minister.

However, dangerous natural phenomena cause considerable damage anyway. Let's take the ice rain this winter, which caused chaos at Moscow airports and deprived thousands of people of electricity.

It became known - all of a sudden, of course, that 90 percent of meteorological equipment in Russia is out of date hopelessly. Russia has only two meteorological satellites, while 13 are needed. Weather does not seem to be a priority for the Russian Space Agency.

"After the things that happened last year, it will not be possible to pretend that we missed something out," Putin told the officials. It seems that he was not satisfied with Roman Vilfand's optimistic forecast about a pleasant summer.

Elena Nikolskaya
Newsinfo

Read the original in Russian

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