Thunderstorms May Stop Moscow's Record Heat Wave

People walking across Patriarch's Bridge and into a setting sun toward Christ the Savior Cathedral, perhaps relieved to be spared from the sweltering heat that has broken records this week. Vladimir Filonov

As unseasonably sweltering weather swept Moscow on Thursday, forecasters said thunderstorms might prevent the temperature from hitting a record high for a third day in a row.

The temperature looked set to top 31 degrees Celsius on Thursday, beating the previous record of 31 C for May 16 set in 1898, Interfax reported, citing the federal weather bureau.

Only lower temperatures from thunderstorms in parts of the Moscow region on Thursday afternoon might prevent the record from being broken once again, it said. Weather forecasters estimate the gusts of wind during the storms will reach up to 12-17 meters per second, blowing cooling air into the capital.

Thunderstorms on Wednesday afternoon prompted a scare at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport when lightening sparked a brief fire at the fueling complex.

Forecasters say the current hot weather is uncharacteristic for May, with temperatures surpassing the norm by 9-10 C.

Weather records were broken Tuesday and Wednesday as the temperature in Moscow reached nearly 30 degrees Celsius.

Even without the thunderstorms, cooler air is expected to arrive by Friday, although the temperature will continue to be significantly above the norm, forecasters said.

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