Yakutsk, Russia: The Coldest City in the World

Jesse Orlean | | BrainsBrains
yakutsk market
Walkable market in Yakutsk with a layer of icy fog above! Image: Facebook

In the midst of a record-breaking U.S. heatwave, it would be fair to say that we all need a refresher. Dubbed the coldest major city in the world, Yakutsk is the capital of the Republic of Sakha in Russia. The city is almost impossible to reach by road and is located less than 300 miles from the Arctic Circle.

Although their summers typically get pretty hot, winters in Yakutsk are painfully cold and most people tend to stay inside for the season. Yakutsk is where the lowest temperature on Earth, outside of Antarctica, was ever recorded, and their annual average temperature is right below 20°F. Moreover, in the peak winter season, from November through February, their average temperature is -26.3°F.

kutsk
Yakutsk, Russia is surrounded by flowing rivers! Image: Google Maps

The first reaction that many people have when hearing about Yakutsk and its chilly climate is asking why anyone would live there. The most relevant answer to this question is that their land is extremely fertile and ripe with natural resources. In fact, around 20% of the world’s diamonds come from mines in Yakutsk. Additionally, the city has a variety of dining options, movie theatres, and other forms of city life entertainment including the only mammoth museum on earth. Still, though, even if we know why people might live here, the question is how do they manage to survive?

sometimes you can just see the cold
A frozen car in Yakutsk connected to a heater from the window! Image: Facebook

Every winter, 311,760 Yakuts have to focus on how to continue their daily routine in bone-chilling temperatures. For instance, “it’s best not to wear glasses outside—the metal freezes and sticks to your face, making it difficult to remove your specs without tearing off chunks of cheek”. Yakuts have to make sure that they have heavy fur coats and proper headwear for their limited, but freezing cold, treks to the supermarket and other necessary stops.

Another major problem that people in Yakutsk have to deal with every winter is making sure that their car battery doesn’t die from the cold. There are several methods used to prevent this:

  • Parking Heaters – Drivers can purchase a heater to use before starting their car and intermetently throughout the day, however, this option is expensive and not always the safest.
  • Covers/Blankets – Thick, full-body covers can be purchased and wrapped around the vehicle when it is parked. Engine blankets are also a popular choice because they can remain on the car when it is moving.
  • Extra Windows– Drivers can install a second layer of windows or film inside of their vehicle to try trapping as much heat in the car as possible.
  • Leave the Car On – Yes, people in Yakutsk will seriously leave their car running all winter.

The fact that people in Yakutsk will seriously leave their cars running for months at a time seems insane, but when living in that cold of a climate, sometimes there aren’t better options. As long as locals protect their cars from thiefs (which isn’t common in the freezing cold), check that fluids don’t build up or freeze, and make sure that their tires don’t deform into squares, they should be good to go.

**WATCH: Vlogger Shows What Life Is Like in Yakutsk


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