Menu Close

Forecast podcast: Devastating floods force mass evacuations in Russia and KazakhstanForecast podcast:

A group of people are seen in a flooded street, with one individual wearing a black hat and blue jacket standing out prominently. The scene also includes a man in a life jacket, a person in a boat with a dog in the water, and another person sitting on a bench with a cat. The flooded area is navigated by a boat, with multiple individuals engaging with the waterlogged environment. The colors of the scene are primarily muted tones like gray, black, and white, creating a somber and serious atmosphere. The image captures the chaos and resilience of individuals in the face of natural disasters.

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Alex Moore discuss the devastating flooding in Russia and Kazakhstan, plus more on elections in The Maldives and Spain’s Basque Country, Elon Musk meeting with India’s prime minister and the US Justice Department meeting with families of victims of two Boeing 737 MAX crashes.

Subscribe to the show: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many more.

These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, David Wyllie, Jaime Calle Moreno, Vivian Wang and Joe Veyera. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed? Drop us a note:

Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is April 18.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got a look at the devastating floods in Russia and Kazakhstan, elections in The Maldives and Spain’s Basque Country, Elon Musk meeting with India’s prime minister and the US Justice Department meeting with families of victims of two Boeing 737 MAX crashes. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.

Mass evacuations after devastating floods in Russia and Kazakhstan

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the flooding in Russia and Kazakhstan. For more on that I’ve got the lead for our Europe desk, Alex Moore.

JIMMY: Good morning, Alex.

ALEX: Hey, Jimmy, how’s it going?

JIMMY: It’s going well. I’m glad you’re here. I’m hoping you can tell us a little bit about the flooding underway in Russia and Central Asia. What’s going on?

ALEX: Yeah, happily. So, beginning the last couple of days of March in northwestern Kazakhstan and metastasizing through the first week of April into neighboring Russia, as well as Northern Kazakhstan, we’ve seen some severe – very historic flooding impacting the southern Urals. And the geographic scope of this is a bit broad, but localized generally to that area with northern northwestern Kazakhstan and Russia’s Orenburg and Kurgan regions, mostly. And yeah, what sort of happened was some seasonally heavy rains in the spring, sort of a coalesced with melting snow from the Urals to trigger some very, very bad flooding that is continuing as we speak to impact a lot of areas in the impact zone downstream from the melting snow and heavy rain.

JIMMY: And what’s the latest there? Any new developments?

ALEX: Yeah, there have been more than, at this count, I think 130,000 people evacuated between Russia and Kazakhstan. And the areas that have been impacted are notable, given the fact that Russia, which is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, the regions impacted are heavily involved in wheat cultivation in Russia. The agricultural ministry has come out and basically said that we don’t expect any, you know, catastrophic impacts on wheat production. And oil and gas also factors prominently here, specifically in Kazakhstan’s Atyrau region, which is near, sort of, their Caspian Sea oil fields. There hasn’t been any notable impact there, but on the Russian side they did have to shut down one of their larger refineries, which was in the Orenburg Region. So we’ve seen the floods trigger widespread evacuations and also the geographical focus has impacted some important industries in these regions as well.

JIMMY: You know, what type of reactions have you seen to the flooding? You know, domestically and internationally?

ALEX: In Russia, in Orsk, which was one of the worst impacted places, they actually had a dam breach there fully. There were actually some rare protests that took place the other week after the dam breach, sort of protesting against what they perceive to be an inadequate government response, as well as calling into question, sort of, the faulty construction of the dam that was breached. So the Russians on their side and the Kazakhstanis as well, have tried to be very proactive in evacuating the people and giving out money and stuff and sort of showing that the respective EMERCOM agencies are on top of it. So in that regard, that was fascinating to see – in Orsk specifically, was the protests.

JIMMY: Alright, I know it’s hard to guess what might be on the horizon when it comes to weather stories, but still, what do you think folks should be watching for next?

ALEX: Yeah, the flooding is very much ongoing. The city of Petropavlovsk in northern Kazakhstan was fully inundated over the last couple of days. And the April-mentioned areas-of-impact in Russia and northwestern Kazakhstan, Orenburg, Kurgan – they remain very much underwater. So, in some instances, the Ural River continues to rise in these areas so it’s very much ongoing. And the multi-week length of the flooding definitely spells trouble, specifically, as I mentioned earlier, for wheat yields. That’s something to continue to keep an eye on moving forward. I know the agricultural authorities in Russia came out and sort of said not to expect any major disruptions, but again, the key emphasis there is the flooding is very much ongoing. And outside of the scope of the Southern Urals, we are also seeing some significant flooding popping up further east in Russia’s Siberia, so Tyumen oblast is also a place where we’ve seen flood evacuations ordered. So, this sort of cycle we’re seeing, melting snow in these mountain ranges coalescing with heavy rain, is also replicating further east in Siberia right now. So, a lot of flooding to watch for in Russia’s southern border, which is obviously an extremely vast border. But, yeah.

JIMMY: Well, Alex, we’ll pause there for today, but I know you’ll be keeping a close eye on things for us. Always appreciate your time. Thank you.

ALEX: Yeah, of course. Thanks, Jimmy.

Basque regional election

Information compiled by David Wyllie

JIMMY: Voters in Spain’s Basque Country will head to the polls Sunday. 

About 1.7 million people eligible to vote will cast their ballots with 75 seats in the region’s devolved parliament up for grabs.

The last regional election in 2020 saw pro-Basque parties dominate the vote share and take a majority of seats in the single-chamber legislature. 

Opinion polls show the far-left separatist EH Bildu party taking the lead, narrowly edging ahead of their Basque Nationalist Party rivals, though both would fall well short of a majority of votes.

Spain’s new minority coalition government has a number of issues to navigate, including how it deals with regional divides within the country — Spain’s parliament only recently allowed Basque as well as Catalan and Galician languages to be used by legislators.

Maldives parliamentary elections

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: Also on Sunday, almost 300,000 voters in The Maldives will vote in parliamentary elections. 

Initially scheduled for mid-March, the elections were postponed to Sunday to avoid it falling during the month of Ramadan. 

Incumbent President Mohammed Muizzu’s Progressive Congress Coalition party will be aiming to secure a large part of the 93 seats up for grabs in the legislative body.

Now, these elections will test the population’s support for the nationalist and sovereign politics Muizzu has been touting

The parliament has quite a strong legislative power over presidential executive decisions, which makes this Sunday an important one.

Elon Musk to meet with Indian PM Modi

Information compiled by Vivian Wang

JIMMY: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is expected to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India as early as Monday. 

The meeting comes as India enters a two-month-long general election.

Musk and Modi have been in a months-long business courtship, meeting last June during Modi’s visit to the US, presumably to discuss expanding Musk’s investments in India. 

Most recently, India lowered import taxes on some electric vehicles – those produced by makers that commit to start domestic manufacturing and invest at least $500 million. That, paving the way for Tesla to enter the Indian market.

Now, Reuters reports that Musk is likely to make an announcement about future investments in India during his visit, including a potential Tesla factory. 

Musk will also meet with Indian space companies

Finally, if Musk finalizes his business plans in India, it could bolster Modi’s credentials in attracting deals and foreign investment amid national elections. 

DOJ meets with Boeing crash families

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: The U.S. Justice Department will meet Wednesday with families of victims of Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.

The meeting comes as the government weighs whether to seek a criminal case against Boeing.

The DOJ is currently considering whether a January incident in which a plug door blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight constitutes a breach of a 2021 settlement.

That settlement, which expired two days after the plug door incident, shielded Boeing from criminal prosecution over a fraud conspiracy charge.

Critics have argued the settlement has failed to hold the company accountable and that Boeing has not seriously followed through on its safety commitments. 

The DOJ has until July 7th to decide on pursuing a case on if the company violated the terms of the 2021 settlement, which included promises to strengthen its compliance program

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors David Wyllie, Jaime Calle Moreno, Vivian Wang and Joe Veyera. Our interview featured editor Alex Moore and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Emergency authorities worked to rescue residents stranded by flooding on April 6 in Ovchinny, Russia. (Photo: City of Orenburg)

Factal gives companies the facts they need in real time to protect people, avoid disruptions and drive automation when the unexpected happens.

Try Factal for free or talk with our sales team ( for a demo.