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Russia: Improving Weather Forecasting Capabilities

April 17, 2012


Because of frequent extreme weather in the North Caucuses, the Afipps river in Krasnodar Krai can suddenly burst its banks, flooding nearby houses and farms. Though it might not look like it here, volatile weather swings are becoming more pronounced.

The modernization of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet) has raised the national forecasting capacity to a level close to that of leading world weather forecasting centers. With World Bank support, Roshydromet improved the lead time for national and regional weather forecasts, achieved a higher spatial resolution of operational forecasts, increased the percentage of observation stations reporting to global telecommunications networks, and reduced the average response time to users of national hydrometerological data.


The impact of the economic transition seriously weakened Roshydromet’s capacity to provide timely and accurate information, primarily due to a massive underfunding of the network’s infrastructure. The decline affected all elements of Roshydromet’s system: observational networks; data transmission, archiving, and processing facilities; and research and development facilities. As a consequence, Roshhydromet failed to predict an escalating number of dangerous weather events, a failure rate that increased from 6.1 percent in 1993 to 23.1 percent in 2001. To arrest the further degradation of Roshydromet’s service, Russia requested the support of the World Bank in implementing the Russia Hydromet Modernization Project.

" An improved warning system is very important, and the next important thing is to communicate the dangers as quickly as possible. "

Alexander Bazelyuk

Head of North Caucasus RosHydromet Region


Russia is turning toward computers and mechanized weather readings, but still relies on some older equipment.


The project aimed to strengthen the technical and institutional capacity of Roshydromet to provide accurate and timely hydrometeorological services to its clients as well as to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in which Russia has historically played a leading role. The project financed the complex modernization of Roshydromet’s computing and communication facilities and observational networks, and boosted its institutional development on the basis of more balanced interaction with sectoral and other clients on the federal, regional, and municipal levels.

" The data that we collect is processed, and the data is incorporated into forecasting weather patterns throughout the globe. "

Svetlana Nikitina

Moscow's weather information collection center


With support from the World Bank, Russia is modernizing data collection, weather modeling, and communications with meteorological centers around the globe.


Four supercomputer complexes and upgraded telecommunications facilities are now fully functioning in the World Meteorological Center (WMC) in Moscow, the regional meteorological centers (RMC) in Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk, and the Main Geophysical Observatory (GGO) in St. Petersburg. The COSMO-RU model, with a spatial resolution of 7 km, is used as the basic model for the numerical forecast of key parameters for the European part of Russia. The project also supported the large-scale modernization of Roshydromet’s data archiving system, which includes the development of an up-to-date computerized archive, the installation of high-capacity servers, software, and storage space for the data and operational archives, and the establishment of automated and semi-automated facilities for the storage of paper records, magnetic media, and a modern automated library. As a result, between 2005 and 2011:

  • The lead time for national and regional weather forecasts increased from 24 to 36 hours.
  • The percentage of stations reporting to the global telecommunications network on time increased from 87 to 98 percent.
  • The average response time to requests for archived data decreased from 14 to 7 days.
  • The percentage of upper air stations in compliance with WMO requirements increased from 5 to 62 percent.
  • The frequency of transmission of weather data from the Roshydromet headquarters in Moscow to Tokyo, New Delhi, New York, and Offenbach, Germany increased and occurs every three hours.

Bank Contribution

The original cost of the project was US$133 million, including US$80 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). In 2009 the Government increased its cofinancing ratio from the original 40 to 60 percent, resulting in a total project cost of US$172 million.

" If we have a good weather forecast, we can get documents and precious things up to the second floor, and the damage could be minimized. "

Vera Garkavaya


Weather is expensive. The World Bank estimates weather-related disasters cost the Russian economy $1 to 2 billion a year.

World Bank Group


The implementing agency of the project is the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, under the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources.

Moving Forward

The disinvestment backlog in the meteorological and hydrological observation infrastructure that accumulated during the 1990s was, according to most conservative estimates, US$0.5 billion. The project supports the critical modernization needs of this observation infrastructure. There is need for further improvement of the weather, water, and climate service delivery in Russia to manage the increasing number of dangerous weather events. The growing impacts of climate change are recognized in the Government’s “Strategy of Activities in Hydrometeorology and Related Areas for the Period until 2030” (September 2010). In 2011 the Government requested the World Bank support for the preparation of the Hydromet-2 Modernization project, with an estimated cost of US$141.5 million, including US$60 million from IBRD financing. The Roshydromet project was used as an example in the preparation of similar investment projects in Europe and Central Asia and other regions.


The key beneficiaries of the project are the information users from the regional and municipal authorities, and the Ministries of Emergency, Transport, Energy, Water Resources Management, and Environmental Protection. Russian people and businesses affected by extreme weather that results in flash floods and prolonged heat waves, destroying roads and bridges or causing fires resulting in millions of rubles’ worth of damage, also clearly benefit from this project. Interviews carried out in 2011 in the North Caucasus, home to about 25 major weather crises each year, indicated public support. “If we have a good weather forecast, we can get documents and precious things up to the second floor, and the damage could be minimized” (Vera Garkavaya). “It is very important to help people get ready, protect the livestock, the cattle, to protect life. The earlier warning, the better” (Vladimir Kuropachenko).


of stations were reporting to the global communications network on time in 2011 compared to 87% in 2005
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