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If the dry, sad-looking Christmas trees lining the New York sidewalks are any indication, the holidays are over. That’s right. The lights and charm have come to a close, stuffed in a box to be forgotten until December 2015. It’s time to stare down the barrel of the gun known effectively as Four More Months of Winter. Fun. To keep things in perspective, we dug around to find some of the most unpleasantly cold places on earth. So the next time you’re shuffling down the street, complaining about 32-degree days, you’ll be more appreciative of your proximity far away from the Arctic Circle.
Kindly named “The Most Miserable Place in the World” by Business Insider, Verkhoyansk clocks in at one of the coldest places on the planet. Right now, at this very moment, it’s a whopping -44 degrees. With a population hovering at the size of a small high school (roughly 1,400 hearty individuals), Verkhoyansk was once the exile destination of choice for Stalin and the czars, who thought this freezing tundra was a great place to send people they weren’t big fans of. Now it’s just filled with people who like the benefits of living in a veritable deep freezer, like potable water that gets delivered in the form of ice blocks, wolves with a taste for horses and reindeer, and an “ice fog” that basically sucks the moisture and ice out of every living thing.
While NYC will gamely call off schools on travel-prohibitive snow days, the young students of Oymyakon make the trek to class so long as temperatures hover somewhere above -52. How generous. To stave off the winter blues, locals drink “Russki chai,” which translates to “Russian Tea,” which translates to vodka. Because the ground is too hard and cold to stick a shovel through, farming isn’t exactly an option, and the population survives predominantly on meat, as well as fish on special occasions.
International Falls, Minnesota
Generally referred to the coldest place in the United States (though it admittedly doesn’t have anything on Siberia), International Falls in Minnesota has branded itself “The Icebox of the Nation,” clocking in with temperatures as low as 46 below and roughly 109.4 days per year not breaking the 32-degree mark. That's about one third of every year spent below freezing.
On multiple occasions during the 20th century, Fraser and the aforementioned International Falls went head-to-head trying to lay claim to the whole “Icebox of the Nation” trademark, going as far as to take each other to court over it. Located high in the Rockies, Fraser’s population maxes out at under 1000 people. An entrance sign located at city limits reads “Leaving Planet Earth.” Bring a spacesuit, or at least a well-insulated parka.
For the coldest 4th of July BBQ ever, head to Barrow, Alaska, where the average mean temperature is just 40.4 degrees. A scant 1,300 miles south of the North Pole and 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Barrow is like the epicenter of cold, built on permafrost just to ensure a radiant cold from the ground up. To make matters more miserable, the sun sets at the end of November and doesn’t bother coming around again until the end of January. If its residents want to leave for greener (and warmer) pastures, the only way out is by air or sea. Talk about cabin fever.