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    RUSSIA IN FOR DROUGHTY SUMMER. BEWARE OF FIRES, WARN EXPERTS

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    MOSCOW, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Torrid weather is expected over a great part of European Russia and Siberia, June into August, heat high above the monthly average. Droughts and conflagrations are probable. Siberian rivers may run shallow to hamper navigation, warned Alexander Bedritsky, in charge of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, as he was addressing a Novosti news conference today.

    Unusual heat will visit the Urals and West Siberia even in May and June. The European Russia will have average summer temperatures a degree centigrade above standard to make up for a comparatively cool last summer.

    Sultry weather will reign in European Russia and- believe it or not- the subarctic Chukchi peninsula in Russia's extreme northeast. Central Russia will have frequent rains, while the fertile West Siberia and Krasnoyarsk Territory are in for droughts, which may spread on to the Volga country and Siberia's east, August into September.

    April will be its usual self over a greater part of the country, though the Urals and Yakutia may have it colder than average, while the East Siberian south will have a heat wave, forecasts Mr. Bedritsky.

    Roman Vilfand, Russian Hydrometeocentre director, who also took part in the news conference, referred to the technical aspects of the weather service. The North Caucasus has repaired all meteorological stations washed off in a disastrous inundation of 2002, so chances are improving to forecast weather ups and downs well beforehand, what with a computerised local network of five radars. These allow to observe cloud travel at ten second intervals and so reliably forecast showers. Satellite information will help to make calamity warnings twelve hours before.

    The North Caucasus, one of Russia's breadbaskets, is likely to have a droughty June. A warning has been passed to the federal Agriculture Ministry even now, added Mr. Vilfand.

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