Although you wouldn’t think it judging by some tabloid weather headlines, the UK’s climate is mild and, it has to be said, kind of boring. Unlike other countries we don’t suffer from extreme summers and winters, but enjoy fairly ordinary weather throughout the year.
With winter right around the corner, some countries in the Northern Hemisphere will be bracing themselves for an extreme cold snap — one that lasts for months and pushes locals to their limits. In stark contrast to the UK, whose road network comes to a standstill at the drop of a single snowflake, these countries have adapted to the extreme cold and not allow it to interfere with daily life.
Here we’ll look at the coldest inhabited places on Earth, and find out how they’ve learnt to live in even the toughest conditions.
Your BMW might work on on UK roads, but travel to Northern Canada and you might find it struggles the further north you drive. During the winter, the Yukon experiences average daily temperatures of around -30°C, meaning the locals have to get around via toughened, snow-ready 4x4s or traditional dog sleds. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the Yukon is -63°C, which is the current record for the lowest temperature in North America.
With incredibly cold weather in the winter and balmy temperatures in the summer, the Russian town of Verkhoyansk is famous for having the most extreme variation in seasonal temperature on Earth. When winter comes around, Verkhoyansk’s average temperature plunges to a frostbite-inducing -45°C — forcing locals to cover their entire bodies before venturing outside. The extreme conditions in this region of Russia means there are a few cars, with most inhabitants travelling from A to B via snowmobile.
Located in the upper reaches of the North American continent, Alaska has by far the most extreme weather of any US state — with average winter temperatures climbing no higher than -15°C. Thanks to its sub-Arctic climate; Alaska’s ice and snow remains for most of the year, meaning locals must learn to master ice driving techniques if they’re to get around. Most new vehicles in Alaska come fitted with snow chains as standard, so that motorists can get their car home from the dealership without getting stuck.
Aside from being the birthplace of Little Saint Nick, Lapland is Finland’s coldest and most extreme region, experiencing average winter temperatures that plummet well below zero for most of the season. Like Alaskans, the Finns have become experts in ice driving, however, the roads are often impassable thanks to the region’s abundant snowfall.
Although Kazakhstan doesn’t lie particularly far north, prevailing winds from northern Russia mean it experiences notoriously cold winters. During autumn and winter, the region of Akmola experiences average temperatures of around -16°C, forcing the locals to change their driving style to accommodate the extreme conditions. Each year, hundreds of people are killed as a result of freezing to death in their cars due to mechanical failure or being caught in a sudden snowstorm.
At Prestone, we rigorously test all of our car products in extreme cold conditions, so you know they’re ready for Britain’s mild winters. To find out more about our range of products, visit the Prestone website.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Anthony DeLorenzo, Maarten Takens, Diana Norgaard, edweerdt, Ken & Nyetta.