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Pole of Cold: Life inside coldest known region in Northern Hemisphere
By Maxim Shemetov, Reuters
One loses all bearings when faced with the shroud of white that obscures all things mid January in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. Only the traffic lights and gas pipelines overhanging the roads help you to find your way. Wrapped in frosty fog, the city life seems frozen in a sleepy half-light. It is -54 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
The Oymyakon valley, the Pole of the Cold, is the coldest known place in the Northern hemisphere. Thermometers registered a record chill of -88 degrees Fahrenheit in 1933, shortly after weather monitoring began here in the end of the 1920s.
And yet, here are schools, a post office, a bank, even an airport runway (albeit one that is open only in the summer) – all the trappings of a civilized life in the valley’s center at Tomtor. I could not help asking local people how they carried on a normal semblance of life in such extreme conditions. Sergey Zverev, a smiling villager in his 40s, said class was cancelled once when he was a school boy because the air temperatures had dropped to -85F. To celebrate he and his classmates got together to play football on the icy streets.