The Champions of the Polar Vortex

For the last few weeks, the already unpleasant East Coast has been experiencing a whole new animal of gelidity – the starkly named Polar Vortex. Each day, we bundle up with our thickest jackets and our heaviest mittens and stuff our faces inside our woolen scarves for the thirty-second walk to the car. We are now shoveling out our cars on a daily basis; illy equipped from our usually cushy lives on the couch.

However, to other remote parts of this icy, cruel world, thirty degrees is the height of summer and warrants a walk in the park (or alongside the frozen pond). And I am here to remind you that no, you do not live in Antartica, but this is just a small, cold phrase of an unusually stark winter (and the end of the world). So, check out the darkest, coldest, and remote regions of the world to make you feel a little better that your job still won’t call in a damn snow day.

1. Verkhoyansk, Russia somehow maintains its roughly 1500 residents in the average-temperatured -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Not surprisingly, it was also the home of political exiles between the 1850s and early 1900s. In 1892, residents recorded a record -90 degrees Fahrenheit which still holds its first-place title today.

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2. Oymyakon, Russia is yet another Russian home of about 600 very cold people, who’s kids still go to school when the thermometer hits -52 degrees Fahrenheit. Sadly enough, the village is named after a local hot spring, which can be reached by locals when cracking through the ice. Believe it or not, a tourism board also sits on duty, which promotes their town as an extreme destination for adventurous travelers.

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3. Hell, Norway is fittingly named as it is frozen over for about a third of each year; from December through March.  Hell maintains its notoriety not only for its sub-artic average temperatures, but also for its clever name and attraction to tourists bored of the beach.

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4. Barrow, Alaska doesn’t break freezing until June and even then, it stays barely at 40 degrees Fahrenheit before the sun sets in November and doesn’t reappear until the end of January. Probably for the best, it is only reachable by sea or air.

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5. Antartica recently broke its own 30 year record by hitting -136 degrees Fahrenheit, which is colder than dry ice. The only beings that even exist there are organisms such as algae, bacteria, penguins, mites, and seals. There are no permanent human residents and even less survival resources. Feel better yet?

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