The unusually warm winter weather, more typical of fall, began in December and has continued into January, with average temperatures remaining above zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
Roman Vilfand, head of the Hydrometeorological Center, said temperatures throughout December were 6-8° above the average: "Short-term fluctuations have occurred before, but such weather persisting for a whole month is a previously unseen phenomenon."
The first two weeks of January, normally the coldest month of the year, were the warmest for those dates in the Russian capital in 130 years, meteorological reports said Monday.
Last year, conversely, most of Russia was gripped by bitter cold as temperatures plummeted to minus 34°C (minus 29.2°F) on the night of January 19-20.
Weather experts said on January 10 that the temperature climbed to plus 8°C, beating the 1957 record for that day of plus 4°, and on January 11 it hit another record of plus 8.6°, surpassing the record set January 11, 1991 (plus 4.6°).
Vilfand said the abnormal weather in Russia, as well as in Western Europe, was due to several factors.
"The temperature over Greenland is extremely low, while the Gulf Stream, which runs several hundred kilometers from the Arctic island, is warmer than usual this year. So a powerful immovable cyclone has originated," Vilfand said.
Weather in the eastern part of Russia and its Pacific region, also unprecedentedly warm, has been influenced by the recent El Nino, a major warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean that occurs every few years, changing the direction of tropical winds and provoking unusual weather events around the world.
"This year, the phenomenon was noticed in October [rather than December] and shifted warm air currents from the tropics to our latitudes," he said.
Vilfand said temperatures would fall to minus 10° Celsius (14°F) in Central Russia in about a week. Weather in Europe will also become colder, with temperature declining to minus 4-6° (24.8-21-2°F).
The warm winter in Central Russia has led to unprecedented phenomena, including blossoming flowers and swelling buds in the Kursk Region.