President Vladimir Putin of Russia has declared today – Monday, July 9, 2012 – a national day of mourning in part in response to the loss of at least 171 people to the devastating and unexpected floods in Russia this past weekend. Imagine going to bed and waking up with water pouring into your house. For thousands of people in southern Russia’s Krasnodar region, this nightmare became a reality this weekend. Krymsk, a town with a population estimated roughly around 57,000, was hardest hit as heavy rains occurred late Friday night into Saturday morning (July 6-7, 2012). Heavy rain and massive flash flooding occurred in Krymsk, Gelendzhik district, and in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. A Russian interior ministry spokesman told the official Itar-Tass news agency late Sunday (July 8) that at least 171 people died due to the floods, and that number could increase as they continue to search for more survivors. Many who passed away from this disaster were elderly. Hundreds of people were injuried and needed medical attention.
Many people in these regions are blaming President Vladimir Putin and officials for not warning the people about this deadly situation in advance, as all of these people had no warning.
The wooded mountainous/hilly areas in Russia’s Krasnodar region likely influenced the torrential flooding as it pushed all of the heavy rain downhill into the towns below. Krymsk was the worst hit city with a total of at least 157 deaths reported and counting. Many residents described the massive flooding as a “tsunumai” that just pushed into their homes as a five-meter (16-foot) wave pushed into the region. The storms dumped some 28 centimeters (11 inches) of rain along the country’s Black Sea coast on the night of July 6-7. The total amount of rainfall recorded that night is equivalent to three months of rainfall in a typical year. Water rose as high as 12 feet (3.6 meters) in a short period of time. Many residents believed the authorities were partially responsible for the massive flooding by claiming they released water from a reservoir. However, officials denied these reports. As of now, it looks like a moisture-rich system developed heavy rains over the area, and the slope of the hills caused the water to run down and push into the cities, causing the massive flooding across the region.
As of now, there are still many people missing from these floods, so it is possible the death count could rise.
Many residents in the area were upset that the officials never warned them about this event, and believe the loss of life could have been fewer had they known about the upcoming storm system. According to the Guardian, a spokesman for the prosecutor general’s investigative committee said the reservoir was not involved in the flooding. Local prosecutors earlier admitted the gates had been opened. Although they were open, it is unclear whether or not it had anything to do with the flooding in the region. Nearby towns were untouched. but that could have been due to the terrain and topography in the area more than anything.
Bottom line: Russian government has declared a day of mourning today – Monday, July 9, 2012 – in part for those who lost their lives this past weekend due to flooding. At least 171 people died from this extreme flash flooding in the southern Russia Krasnodar region that were caused by heavy rains in the region. The hills and mountainous areas directed the water, sending it pouring into the towns and cities. Some areas had received nearly a foot of rain (over 30 centimeters). The total amount of rainfall recorded the night of July 6-7 is equivalent to three months of rainfall in a typical year.
Matt Daniel is Meteorologist for WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama. A self-described "big weather and music geek," Matt has a passion for helping to keep people safe when severe weather strikes and says if you don't have a NOAA Weather Radio ... you should get one.