July 18, 2023

March 4, 2022

Weather, War and Timing

Dr. Ray Schmitt



min read

Rasputitsa (Sea of Mud), 1894, Alexei Savrasov

The world watches in horror as the inhumane Russian invasion of Ukraine develops. The Ukrainian will for independence has inspired the world and their resistance has created significant problems for Putin’s plan to take over the country. It has been reported that China asked Russia to hold off on the invasion until after the Winter Olympics were over. However, that 16-day delay may be aiding the Ukrainian resistance. This is because previously frozen ground is now turning to mud. And that mud is proving challenging for tanks and heavy equipment. Megan Specia in the New York Times reports that “In early spring and late fall, parts of Ukraine experience a messy damp season — known as “Rasputitsa,” or “season of bad roads,” in Russian — that makes movement of heavy military vehicles across open terrain especially difficult.”

Of course, frozen ground turns to mud when the average temperature gets above freezing. We have mapped the push of warmer weather across Europe in the next few weeks and focused on the 0 deg C threshold for weekly average temperature. Figure 1 shows that most of Ukraine has above freezing temperatures this week and the thaw extends all the way to Moscow by early April. Salient’s more accurate long range weather forecasts have traction in the energy, agriculture and insurance sectors and could be very useful for military strategists as well.

Figure 1: Animated map of Europe showing the areas where average weekly temperatures are above freezing as we progress through weeks 1-5 from February 27.

We encourage anyone who can to donate to the ongoing humanitarian efforts. Here are a few of the many places to donate:


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