If ever there was a video you'd want to cuddle up with your Snuggie for, it'd be this one! We're traversing the globe, thermometer in hand, to find the top 10 coldest temperatures ever recorded! To give the best indication of just how cold some areas of the world can get, we considered both ground and air recorded temperatures in compiling this Archive.
Dome Argus, Antarctica (-135.8° F / -93.2° C)
Bundle up, Archivists! We’ve made it to Dome Argus, site of the coldest air temperature ever recorded! While not recognized by the Guinness World Records because it wasn’t a ground recorded temperature, the extremely brisk August 2010 reading of -135° F or -93° C was verified by NASA satellites after researchers of NASA and the USGS combed through 32 years’ worth of recordings. Though not the highest elevation on Earth, Dome Argus is at the highest point in Antarctica, at just under 13,500 feet or 4,000 meters. Dome Argus may not be one of the most well-known locations on our planet – if known at all – but those that do know it recognize it as the coldest naturally occurring place on Earth.
Vostok, Antarctica (-128° F / -89° C)
The record temperature of -128° F or -89° C was recorded at the Soviet station of Vostok in Antarctica on July 21st, 1983. Contesting Vostok for lowest recorded temperature was a satellite reading taken in August of 2010 of -135° F or -93° C also in Antarctica. When questioned on the validity of the 2010 reading, the head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition logistics center claimed it to be “unrealistic” to award the title of lowest temperature based on just a satellite reading.
Plateau Station, Antarctica (-123° F / -86° C)
On a brisk day in July 1968, when parts of the world were experiencing some of their highest temperatures of the year, the now-inactive American research station, Plateau Station, was dealing with one of its coldest days ever. The high-elevation station recorded an ungodly cold temperature of -123° F or -86° C. Even for that time of year, that low a temperature is unseasonably cold as the average usually hovered around a slightly warmer -76° F or -60° C. When still active, the base was used for solar observations, hence the higher altitude of 11,500 feet or 3,500 meters, which would provide for cleaner air and shorter distance to the sun.
Oymyakon, Russia (-96° F / -71.2° C)
Just like Verkhoyansk, a record low of -96° F or -71.2° C was reported in Oymyakon. Also located in the Sakha Republic, the very minimally populated town dukes it out with its neighbor for the title of coldest inhabited place in the world. The low figure, which was the lowest temperature ever recorded at the time, was measured in 1924. Nine years later, the record was almost broken again in the same region with a temperature of -90° F or -67° C, which may be why it’s often deemed the coldest city to live in.
Verkhoyansk, Russia (-93° F / -69° C)
Russia can be cold, a fact that Napoleon found out the hard way, but would you guess that it could be record-breaking cold? Though not the coldest place on the planet, Verkhoyansk is often regarded as one of the most difficult places to live, something that Joseph Stalin was aware of when he exiled his political refugees to it. While Montana holds the record for the greatest temperature range in the United States, Verkhoyansk claimed the Guinness World Record by 2° F with a range of 189° F or105° C.
North Ice, Greenland (-87° F / -66.1° C)
For a period of 2 years from 1952 to 1954, the research station North Ice remained active on the inland ice of Greenland. On January 9th, 1954, at an elevation of 7,680 ft or roughly 2,341 meters, the station recorded a temp of -87° F or -66.1° C, taking the record of coldest temperature in North America from Snag, Yukon. Generally, Greenland is met with an Arctic climate, with temperatures keeping below 50° F or 10° C, even during the warmer, summer months.
Snag, Yukon (-81.4° F / -63° C)
Putting Canada on the map of coldest temperatures in the world is Snag, Yukon, the former site of a military airfield that closed in 1968. In February of 1947, Snag set the record for coldest temp in North America with a reading of -81° F or -63° C. Between January, which is, on average, the region’s coldest month, the former is typically colder with a middling temp of -22° or F -30° C. In February, the average ranges around -16° F or -26° C.
Prospect Creek, Alaska (-79.8° F / -62.1° C)
You may be wondering which of the 50 United States carries the record for lowest temperature recorded in the country's history. If you've guessed Alaska, you'd be right. Prospect Creek, a small settlement in Alaska - not even at the northernmost point of Alaska, mind you - experienced a temperature of just under -80° F or -62° C on January 23rd, 1971 in Prospect Creek. This milestone earned the uninhabited region the title of the coldest place in the United States. On average in January, Prospect Creek’s temperature holds steady around -7° F or -22° C.
Rogers Pass, Montana (-70° F / -56.5° C)
It may not be the coldest temperature recorded for the United States, but the below-freezing measurement of -70° F or -56.5° C is uncommonly cold for the northern region of the country. The temperature was pinpointed on July 20th, 1983 in the city of Glendive in Dawson County. The highest temperature ever recorded in Montana was 117° F or 47° C at Medicine Lake in 1937, giving the state the record for the most extreme range in high and low temps at 187° F or 86° C in the United States.
Ust'Shchugor, Russia (-72.6° F / -58.1° C)
Taking the record for the lowest temperature in Europe is the village of Ust’Shchugor, Russia, which earned the title on New Year’s Eve in 1978. A brisk -72.6° F or -58.1° C was pinpointed at an elevation of 279 feet or 85 meters. The cold village sits near the merging of the Pechora and Shchuger Rivers in the Komi Republic of Russia. On average in December, the region is used to dealing with temperatures as low as -4° F or -20° C, though January is, on average, the coldest month of the year with a common low of -13° F or -25° C.