What’s it like living in the coldest city in the world?
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For the people in Yakutsk, Siberia, where the temperature last week week fell to -47°C, icy floors and frost bite are just a part of daily life. But the rigors of winter don't stop the city from functionning: shops are open, buses run, even children play in the park.
Yakutsk, early December. All photos by Bolot Bochkarev.
For the people in Yakutsk, Siberia, where the temperature last week week fell to -47°C, icy floors and frost bite are just a part of daily life. But the rigors of winter don't stop the city from functionning: shops are open, buses run and children play in the park.
Situated on the left bank of the river Lena, Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha, Russia’s easternmost federal republic. With an average temperature of -60°C in January, it is one of the most freezing cities in the world. The actual “coldest city” world record is proudly held by the town of Verkhoyansk, 675 km north of Yakutsk, where the temperature dropped to -69,8°C in February 1892.
Yakutsk is built entirely on permafrost, a permanently frozen soil that requires foundations to be dug extremely deep in the ground to resist seasonal thaws.
In the streets of Yakutsk on December 8.
"The city begins preparing for winter in the month of June"
Bolot Boucharev lives in Yakutsk with his wife and two sons, aged 3 and 5. Recent entries to his blog Ask Yakutia describe the arrival of the polar winter in the city.
A temperature of -47°C is a normal for a December day. People here are completely used to this kind of cold. The first thing we do when we get up in the morning is look at the colour of the sky. If it’s blue, we know the cold will be bearable. If all you can see is fog behind the window pane, we know it will be a tough day.
It’s hardest for the children, who have to spend all day inside, either at home or at school. I try to bring my two sons to the park at least once a day. Since it’s extremely cold, we go in a taxi, so that the little time they spend outside, they spend playing. I don’t want them to get sick, so my rule is that we never stay outdoors more than 30 minutes per day.
The best clothes for this kind of weather are fur and wool. The trick is to wear as many layers of possible, even several layers of underwear. Also, you have make sure your time outside is spent quickly and efficiently. For example, you need to know exact bus schedules so as not to spend time waiting at the bus stop. But the cold and snow doesn’t stop the city from functioning. Shops are open, public transport works. The city starts preparing for winter in the month of June. All of the sewage and pipeline networks are check and repaired at the slightest hint of a leak. People here start saying “it’s cold” when the temperature goes below 50°C. In those cases, it’s best not to spend more than 10 minutes outside.”
All photos posted by Bolot on his blog.