Siberia Shivers as Temperatures Plummet to a Bone-Chilling -58 Degrees Celsius

Arctic weather enfolded swathes of Russia on Tuesday, with temperatures in the wilds of Siberia falling to minus 58 degrees Celsius (minus 72 degrees Fahrenheit). In Yakutsk, one of the world’s coldest cities, some 5,000 km (3,100 miles) east of Moscow, residents struggled to cope with a freezing fog that prevented them from seeing more than 10 meters ahead.

The city’s inhabitants work hard to live on the permafrost, a layer of frozen ground that remains at a stable temperature for long periods. This makes it a challenge for the city’s infrastructure, from tanneries and sawmills to housing developments that need to be built on stable soil. The city also houses the Yakutsk Permafrost Institute, which investigates and aims to solve issues related to building on frozen ground.

Locals say their boilers have frozen, and water pipes have burst, making it difficult to find warm water in the home. But despite the hardship, residents say they don’t regret their choice to live in such an extreme climate, where wintery conditions stretch from October to April.

This year’s extreme Siberian chill is connected to a zone of extreme high pressure entrenched over the region, combined with a skirmish between the polar vortex and the blocking high, which sits over northern Europe. As a result, a corridor of frigid air has been locked up in the Arctic, with forecasts suggesting it will gradually drift into eastern Russia through the weekend.

In Zhilinda, an isolated town on the outskirts of the Sakha Republic, temperatures have stayed below minus 58 degrees Celsius in the past six days. The town is the coldest permanently inhabited location in the world. According to Christopher Burt, a meteorologist with the Weather Underground website, a similar scenario is unfolding in Oymyakon (oh-MEE-yah-kon), widely considered to be the coldest place on earth.

Photographer Christopher Chapple, who recently traveled to Yakutsk to document the bitter conditions for his project, says he has never seen anything as cold as this. “I was so cold that my camera kept seizing up,” he says. “It was a nightmare to take photos.”

A drone captured the freezing streets of Yakutsk, where residents struggled to get about in their cars and on foot. They bundled up in furs and down jackets, some even wearing masks to protect themselves from the wind and ice.

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