An intense but brief storm hit Moscow after Russian authorities warned that torrential rain and strong gusts of wind were expected to hit the city. The Russian capital is hosting hundreds of thousands of World Cup fans.
A torrential downpour hit Moscow on Saturday afternoon, with strong winds uprooting trees and damaging several cars. Authorities say no casualties have been reported.
Previously, Russia's weather officials warned that a powerful summer storm was expected in Moscow on Saturday, with wind gusts reaching over 20 meters (65.6 feet) per second and possibly forming squalls, alongside rain and hail. Russia's Emergency Ministry said the storm might also hit on Sunday.
It was not immediately clear if the brief storm that brought hail and flooded the streets on Saturday would mean the end of extreme weather for the weekend. Following the Saturday downpour, local media reported that officials were keeping the "yellow" weather alert in place — signifying "potentially dangerous" weather events — for Sunday as well.
FIFA fan zone Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills) was closed on Saturday afternoon due to the weather warning, with officials also closing Moscow's zoo and the VDNH permanent trade show. Owners of restaurants and cafes were instructed to close their outdoor seating areas.
Stay indoors with windows closed
The Emergency Ministry advised people to stay indoors with windows closed during the storm.
For those caught outside, the advice was to steer clear of advertising panels and flimsy structures — and not to seek shelter under trees, while keeping a good distance from bodies of water.
Car drivers were advised to park their cars, and be aware of the possibility of falling trees and branches.
With a population of 12.5 million, the Russian capital is one of 11 cities welcoming foreign fans for the duration of the World Cup 2018. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have been congregating in the city, partly in open-air fan zones downtown.
While Moscow is known for its deadly cold during winter months, an abrupt storm in May 2017 killed at least 16 people across the city and its suburbs. Another person died due to a storm in April this year.