An extremely warm spring brought an early start to the 2014 Russian fire season. According to an article in the Siberian Times, it was the hottest April 1 on record for several cities, including Novosibirsk and Tomsk, both located within this image. The overall temperature in the area was reported to be 6.5 – 16.2°F 2-9°C) higher than the record set in 1989. The high temperatures, along with a significant lack of precipitation, brought the first fires about one and a half months early.
By early May, temperatures continued to soar, and fires speckled the landscape of south-central Russia. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua passed over the region on May 6, 2014 and captured this true-color image.
A storm system sits over Kazakhstan, with a band of clouds reaching over the border into Russia, bringing wind and also slightly cooler weather. The city of Omsk, which sits directly under the cloud band, reported cloudy conditions and highs of 55°F (12.8°C) on May 6, but only two days earlier the temperature rose to 81°F (27.2°C) after a string of nearly equally warm days. Numerous fires with large heat signatures (red “hot spots”) are burning in agricultural land and on forest edges in Novosibirsk and Omsk Oblasts. Wind blows most of the heavy smoke plumes to the northwest, but on the eastern side of the storm system, smoke blows to the southwest.
On May 5, the Voice of Russia Radio was reported to have announced that over 100 fires were burning on 140,471 hectares (542 square miles) in Russia. Most were said to be burning in Novosibirsk, Omsk, and Trans-Baikal regions.