When a squall tore through Moscow at the end of May, the toll was unusually high: The fierce gales killed 18 people and injured scores more, officials say, and inflicted about $3.5 billion in damages in Russia’s capital region.
Now, there’s another casualty. Earlier this month, Russia’s government fired the head of its weather forecasting agency, the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, or Roshydromet. Alexander Frolov, 65, had surpassed the mandatory retirement age for civil servants, but the real reason he was forced out, observers say, was Roshydromet’s failure to anticipate the late-May storm’s intensity and warn Muscovites accordingly. His ousting also sent a message to the environment ministry, Roshydromet’s overseer. The state prosecutor’s office, according to the newspaper Kommersant, demanded that the ministry take steps to increase the accuracy of forecasts in light of a changing climate.