Exactly How Cold Does It Have to Be to Break a Thermometer? One Village Found Out

published Jan 19, 2018
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(Image credit: strangebirdy)

I spent the holidays in Chicago, where the temperature fluctuated between about 5 degrees and about negative 10 Fahrenheit. I alternated between cursing the wind, cancelling any and all plans and thinking of all of the winter street cred I was earning while huddled under five blankets. Turns out that in the grand scheme of things, I’m a wimp.

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The remote Russian village of Oymyakon got so cold last weekend, the city’s digital thermometer broke. How cold does it have to get to break a thermometer? Negative 62 degrees Celsius, negative 79.6 Fahrenheit.

Oymyakon—which translates into “unfrozen patch of water; place where fish spend the winter” (somebody’s got jokes)—is a remote village of about 500 around the Indigirka River.

Photographer Petr Chugunov snapped this shot of a ballerina during the record breaking day. She was outside for under two minutes, with a coat and boots at the ready, but still a high stakes photo shoot that resulted in a stunning shot.

And while most folks were hiding out, going about their daily lives or taking the occasional Instagram photo, some bold (or foolish) people could be seen jumping into the water. As winter rolls on, hopefully this helps put things into perspective— at least your thermometer still works!

Tips for warming up your cold home: