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Nov 11

Yakutsk: 200,000 people living in ridiculous weather

Yakutsk, the coldest city on the planet, has always been a source of curiosity for me. Located in depths of Siberia, it has pleasant summer temperatures maxing out in the twenties Celsius, but in winter it plunges to an unfathomable negative 50 degrees.  If you’ve ever walked into a commercial freezer for 30 seconds, you’ll know roughly what it’s like. But to live there? It seems absurd. I actually have Yakutsk’s weather on my iPhone weather app just to make me feel warm.

Anyway, a journo from The Independent just published an interesting article about Yakutsk that is worth a read:

I know this because Ive just arrived in Yakutsk, a place where friendly locals warn you against wearing spectacles outdoors. Yakutsk is a remote city in Eastern Siberia population 200,000 famous for two things: appearing in the classic board game Risk, and the fact that it can, convincingly, claim to be the coldest city on earth. In January, the most freezing month, average “highs” are around minus 40C; today the temperature is hovering around minus 43C, leaving the city engulfed in an oppressive blanket of freezing fog that restricts visibility to 10 metres. Fur-clad locals scurry through a central square adorned with an icy Christmas tree left over from the New Year holidays and a statue of a strident Lenin, with one arm aloft and pointing forward, thoroughly unfazed by the cold.

A couple of weeks ago, Yakutsk hit the headlines after a series of burst pipes caused Artyk and Markha, two nearby villages, to lose their heating for several days. The temperatures then were minus 50C. Television footage of the ensuing “big freeze” showed groups of people huddled in swathes of blankets gathering round makeshift wood-fired stoves to keep warm. It looked like fun – of a sort. So I decided to come to Yakutsk for myself to find out how people manage to survive, and go about something resembling daily life, in the worlds coldest place.

  10:09am  •  Travel  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment

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