If you think it’s been cold in Topeka, imagine living in Oymyakon, Siberia. Oymyakon is the coldest permanently inhabited village in the world with temperatures that are colder than the surface of Mars.
Last week, a global cold snap dropped temperatures severely. In Topeka, and all over Kansas, the temperatures dipped below zero with the windchill as low as -15 to -25 degrees. The population went into a panic and many schools and businesses were shut down Jan. 16, the coldest day of the snap.
In this region of the world these low temperatures are considered extremely cold, but in Siberia -25 degrees is considered tropical. Oymyakon was also hit by the cold spike and the temperature dropped to an incredible -88 degrees.
More incredible than that is that this isn’t the lowest temperature recorded there. In 2013, temperatures in Oymyakon reportedly dropped to -98 degrees and unofficial temperatures have gone as low as a staggering -108 degrees. Schools in the area did close during these days, but have reportedly stayed open well into the -50’s.
The climate in this area is always incredibly cold, so the 500 residents that live there have had to adapt to life with very little heat. From Dec. 1 to March 1, it is unlikely for the temperature to ever go above zero degrees. This means it is almost impossible to grow crops or cook food properly. The population has taken to eating raw, frozen meat as the basis of their diet. One of the delicacies of the region is frozen whitefish. Other popular frozen dishes are raw horse and reindeer meat, frozen horse liver and frozen cubes of horse blood.
Diesel fuel will begin to freeze once it reaches -58 degrees, which is a common occurrence in Oymyakon. This means that cars have to be left running to prevent the fuel or parts from freezing. Outhouses are very common because the ground is too frozen for underground pipes.
Any exposed skin in this type of weather can and usually does fall victim to frostbite. Many photos that have made this location so popular on social media depict people completely bundled from head-to-toe with frozen, frosty eyelashes and eyebrows. The only way to stay warm in this weather is to bundle up in animal furs, synthetic fur simply won’t cut it. Reindeer fur is a favorite as it is very warm and it pays homage to the history of the village as it was a stop for reindeer herders in the 1920’s.
The people that live there are accustomed to cold, but unfortunately living in such extreme weather conditions can quickly turn deadly. According to “The Washington Post,” just last week two men froze to death after their car stalled and they were forced to walk to the nearest farmhouse.
The villagers are proud of their reputation and the town has been nicknamed the “Pole of the Cold.” Who can blame them for being proud of their small population for braving these extreme weather conditions?
So next time it’s freezing outside, just bundle up and be thankful you don’t live in Siberia.