In Yakutsk, the capital of the Yakutia region of Russia, known as the coldest place on Earth, the temperature dropped below -50°C this week.
The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is around -40°C (-40°F), with temperatures dropping as low as -60°C (-76°F) at night and in some remote areas. For comparison, in Europe average daytime temperatures in January are around 4℃ and 8℃.
The city of Yakutsk is located 6.5 hours flight from Moscow in an area with permafrost, which means that the ground remains frozen year-round. Despite the harsh weather, Yakutsk is home to over 350,000 people and is the major center for transportation, culture and education in the region. Residents are coping with the cold by wearing “layers, like a cabbage”. “You can’t fight it. You either adjust and dress accordingly or you suffer,” local Anastasia Gruzdeva told Reuters. “You don’t really feel the cold in the city. Or maybe it’s just the brain prepares you for it, and tells you everything is normal,” she added.
The extreme weather in the region, also drew international attention in 2021 when gigantic wildfires burned across Siberia on a record scale that was larger than all the fires raging that summer worldwide combined. As local authorities estimated the fires burned around 1.5 million hectares and caused a fire-induced toxic smog that affected residential areas.
Yakutsk is one of the few places on Earth where the Northern Lights can be seen, “the sky here looks like a lavender-green star-encrusted veil,” writes the website VisitRussia. The primary economic activity in the region is mining, particularly coal, gold and diamonds.