Last week was nothing compared to these seven record cold temperatures recorded on Earth

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, January 12, 2014, 7:08 PM -

Yes, we know. Canada is a cold country. 

Arguably the coldest, in terms of average temperature, so we really shouldn't be surprised when the temperatures plummet to -30C or below, as happened across the nation last week.

And there are some cities in our country that go weeks and weeks without temperatures coming anywhere near zero (take a look at these five:)

Still, as bad as last week was, we looked into it, and even with the icy temperatures that gripped our country from the Prairies to Newfoundland, the seven cold-temperature records below were in no danger of being broken.

Prospect Creek, Alaska

The United States’ all-time record lowest temperature is about where you’d expect it to be: Alaskan, the now mostly-abandoned settlement of Prospect Creek, where it got down to -62.2C one fine January morning in 1971.

Image: Charles D. Evans, US Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons

Image: Charles D. Evans, US Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons

At the time, it was host to workers building an oil pipeline, but they weren’t the only ones to suffer in Alaska that day. Cold air gripped almost all of the state, such that Fairbanks, one of the Alaska's largest cities, suffered from major ice fog.

The town’s newspaper reported a four-car pile-up as a result, and the record low at Prospect Creek dominated the front page alongside such minor newsmakers as Vietnam and Charles Manson.

And it came just a hair’s breadth away from surpassing the all-time record for the coldest day in mainland North America – set just a few kilometres away beyond Alaska’s eastern border.

Snag, Yukon

Here’s Canada’s entry in the list, and it stands out not just as the coldest-ever temperature in the nation, but the coldest in North America (no, we’re not counting Greenland).

When the thermometer bottomed out at -62.8C on February 3, 1947 in the Yukon outpost of Snag, it turned the handful of frozen inhabitants into minor celebrities, hounded by newspapers phoning in to ask what life is like in that kind of ridiculous extreme cold.

The joke was, the scientists couldn’t celebrate, since all the alcohol they had was frozen at the bottom of their thermometers, but it’s doubtful anyone actually IN Snag at the time thought it was funny.

Exposed skin would freeze within four minutes, people could hear dogs barking several kilometers away, and your breath would linger in the air for several minutes, in long trails hundreds of metres long.

Lucky for the airmen, scientists and local inhabitants, it didn’t stay that cold. As the day wore on, temperatures climbed to a nice, comfy -48.9C

Yakutsk, Russia

The Siberian city of Yakutsk calls itself the coldest in the world, and with good reason.

It hit a low of -64.4C in February 1891, but the truth is the average highs in the winter are rarely above -30C.

But unlike anything else on this list, when we call Yakutsk a city, it’s not just courtesy. Rather than a remote outpost, it is a fully-developed metropolis, boasting a population of hundreds of thousands of people, along with universities, opera houses, even a zoo.

It’s the largest city built on permafrost, and the locals have adapted to the extreme conditions. Their homes are built on deep underground stilts, although construction workers have to stop work when it gets down to -50C, when metal becomes too brittle to work with.

Apparently, the city's inhabitants have adapted to those conditions just fine, although the journalist who wrote this account of living there seems to have had a tougher time of it.


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