Venturing outside in the cold this winter, with record-breaking low temperatures stretching from Maine to southern Florida, may take some courage, but these recent lows are nothing compared to the ones on this list.
Check out the places in the world that hold the records for the coldest temperatures ever measured on Earth.
8. International Falls, Minn., United States (- 40 Fahrenheit/- 40 Celsius)
International Falls is so serious about its status as one of the coldest places in the continental United States that it has actually taken another town to court over the title.
In 2002, International Falls took Fraser, Colo., to court in order to finally settle who had claim to the title "Icebox of the Nation," according to a report from the BBC. They now celebrate that win by hosting the annual four-day Icebox Days festival, which includes events such as frozen turkey bowling, snow-sculpting and candlelit skiing.
While it is in fact only the second coldest place in the continental United States, International Falls boasts the lowest average temperature in the country, hovering between 32 and 36 degrees F (0 and 2 degrees C).
Stanley, Idaho (Photo: borga/Flickr)
7. Stanley, Idaho, United States (-52.6 Fahrenheit/-47 Celsius)
The title of coldest place in the continental United States belongs to Stanley, Idaho, a town 130 miles (209 km) east of Boise. In addition to its record cold temperature, the town also holds claim to the highest number of coldest days between 1995 and 2005, according to a report by the BBC.
Situated within the Rockies, Stanley is surrounded by the White Cloud, the Boulder and the Sawtooth Mountain Ranges all of which contain peaks over 10,000 feet (3,048 m). The town is also surrounded by three national forests: the Boise, Challis and Sawtooth.
6. Prospect Creek, Alaska, United States (-78.16 Fahrenheit/-62.1 Celsius)
Prospect Creek is a very small settlement approximately 180 miles (290 km) north of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Originally, it was home to mining expeditions and the home base for the 27,000 people building the Alaskan Pipeline. Since the completion of the pipeline in 1977, there is little activity in the area.
Prospect Creek is known for having the lowest recorded temperature in the United States. In January of 1971, the record low temperature of nearly minus 80 degrees F (minus 62 degrees C) was recorded. Despite these frigid temperatures the oil in the pipeline doesn't freeze due to 4-inch-thick (10 centimeters) fiberglass thermal insulation, according to the Alaska Pipeline Operation Company.
5. Snag, Yukon Territory, Canada (-83.02 Fahrenheit/-63.9 Celsius)
Snag in the Yukon Territory holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in North America. The village is located in the bowl-shaped valley of the White River, including Snag Creek, for which it was named in 1898.
In 1947, when the coldest temperature was recorded, the village of Snag boasted a population of eight to 10 natives and fur traders. The emergency landing strip and weather station staff of 15 to 20 meteorologists, radio operators and aircraft maintenance men rounded out the population.
The temperature was so cold that day that the meteorologists working at the station had to carve a new notch in the case of the thermometer and send the whole thing to be analyzed in order to determine the exact temperature, according to the Alaska Science Forum.
Yakutsk, Siberia (Photo: Luciano Napolitano/travel-tour-guide.com)
4. Yakutsk, Siberia (-83.92 Fahrenheit/-64.4 Celsius)
Yakutsk, the capital of the Russian republic of Yakutia, is one of the oldest cities in Siberia. It sits on the western bank of the Lena River, but winters are severe enough that even the frozen river is able to act as a seasonal road.
In 1822, Yakutsk was officially designated a city, today Yakutsk is a major administrative, industrial, cultural and research center, despite being six time zones away from Moscow.
Even local folklore is focused around how cold the place is. Every element on the periodic table can be found in the region, and local legend explains how that came to be: The god of creation had been flying around the world to distribute riches and natural resources, but when he got to Yakutia he got so cold that his hands went numb and he dropped everything, according to a report from The Independent.
3. Verkhoyansk, Siberia (-93.64 Fahrenheit/-69.8 Celsius)
Verkhoyansk is also a Siberian town located near the Arctic Circle. A river port, a fur-collecting depot, and the center of a reindeer-raising area, the town was founded in 1638, and was a place of political exile until 1917.
In addition to being the third coldest place in the world, it is also officially the third smallest town in Russia. There is a bright side though; while Verkhoyansk does have some of the most frigid winters in the world it has a remarkably wide range of temperatures between the seasons. Average monthly temperatures range from minus 50.4 degrees F (minus 45.8 degrees C) in January to 62 degrees F (16.9 degrees C) in July.
2. Oymyakon, Siberia (-96.16 Fahrenheit/-71.2 Celsius)
Oymyakon, in Siberia, holds the record for being the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth.
The village, which sits 217 miles (350 km) below the Arctic Circle, is home to more than 210,000 people, despite its ground being in a constant state of permafrost. Oymyakon's school shuts only when temperatures fall below minus 61 degrees F (minus degrees 52 C), and residents reportedly leave their vehicles running all day to keep them drivable, according to a report from the BBC.
Along with Verkhoyansk and Yakutsk, Oymyakon can be found in a region that was formerly nicknamed "Stalin's Death Ring," as it was one of the destinations for political exiles of the Soviet regime.
Vostok, Antarctica (Photo: Robin Bell)
1. Vostok, Antarctica (-128.56 Fahrenheit/-89.2 Celsius)
Located 11,482 feet (3,500 meters) above sea level, Vostok is officially the coldest place on Earth. The coldest temperature ever recorded — minus 128.56 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 89.2 Celsius) was recorded here on July 21, 1983.
The research station there is located near the South Geomagnetic Pole, at the center of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, where the flux in the Earth's electromagnetic field can be observed. Vostok's key geographical feature is its lake, which is 160 miles (250 kilometers) long by 31 miles (50 km) wide, making it one of the largest in the world. The lake is also buried under 2.5 miles (4 km) of ice.
Although this is a Russian research station, scientists from all over the world conduct research here. One of the primary projects at this site, a coordinated Russian, French and American effort, is drilling an ice core through the 12,139-foot-thick (3,700 meters) ice sheet. This ice core contains records of Earth's climate for almost the past 500,000 years, [according to Antarctic Connection,].
Despite the frigid temperatures, Vostok gets relatively little snow, as Antarctica is technically a desert, receiving less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of precipitation a year.
This article was reprinted with permission from OurAmazingPlanet.
MNN homepage photo: dbaron/Flickr
Related on MNN: 7 of the coldest places in the world to live