An intense thunderstorm swept over Russia’s capital city Monday. Winds gusted to nearly 70 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour) toppling 3,500 trees and damaging 1,500 vehicles and 243 buildings. Sixteen people are reported dead and more than 160 injured.
Reuters reported 11 of the fatalities occurred in Moscow and five in its suburbs.
“I can’t remember within my recollection any other such calamity with the number of dead and injured as big as this one,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Tass, the state-run news agency.
Russia’s Interfax news agency was calling it the city’s deadliest storm in more than 100 years.
Social media photos and video (see above and below) showed a construction crane toppled, pieces of buildings lofted into the air, traffic signs flattened, and tree limbs snapping off and littering streets.
Winds even ripped off part of the Kremlin Senate’s roof:
— Вестник Москвы (@NovostiMsk) May 29, 2017
Some Moscow residents complained about a lack of warning ahead of the storm, but a spokesman for Moscow’s emergency services said a text-based warning was distributed through Russia’s three mobile operators, according to Radio Free Europe.
It was a classic setup for severe weather.
Monday’s weather map featured an intense cold front plowing across Russia from northwest to southeast. Before the front hit Moscow, warm, moist and unstable air had seeped across the region. The temperature soared to 77 degrees at 3 p.m. local time.
As the front neared and the storm roared into the city, winds raged, and the temperature dropped 18 degrees (to 59 by 4 p.m.). At Moscow-Vnukovo International Airport, the wind gusted to 49 mph at 3:30 p.m., although higher gusts were reported elsewhere.
It is likely the thunderstorms formed along a squall line near the front. If the wind damage occurred over a broad enough area, it’s possible it was a derecho-like system. A derecho is a fast-moving thunderstorm complex that produces a wide swath of violent wind gusts; it is fairly common in the United States during the late spring and summer months.
Below find more photos and video of the event:
— Ника Шульга (@nikochka_21) May 29, 2017
— Denis Lukyanov jr. (@edan2154) May 29, 2017
— Вячеслав КАЛИНИН (@kalinin_v) May 29, 2017
— akinsowon olusegun (@akinto70) May 30, 2017