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Russia's Pole of Cold hits -70°F: Europe's 2nd coldest reading of all-time

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:48 PM GMT on February 22, 2010

The notorious Russian winter, bane of the armies of Napoleon and Hitler, has been in classic form during the winter of 2010 . Brutal cold has been the rule this winter in the European portion of Russia, and at 9am local time on Friday, February 19, the town of Hoseda-Hard, Russia hit a remarkable -70°F (-56.4°C)--the second coldest temperature ever measured in Europe. Hoseda-Hard is located in extreme northeastern Europe, 90 miles (145 km) south of the Arctic Ocean and about 150 miles (240 km) west of the Ural Mountains and the boundary of Asia. The town lies in a shallow river valley (elevation 84 meters) where cold air tends to pool. The surrounding region is known as Europe's "Pole of Cold". The coldest temperature ever recorded in Europe was an extraordinary -72.6°F (-58.1°C) in the Pole of Cold's Ust'Schugor (64.15°N 57.45°) on December 31, 1978. The nearby city of Pechora, the largest city in the region (population: 50,000), is also well-known for its extreme temperatures. Pechora boasts Europe's third coldest temperature, a -68.8°F (-56.0°C) reading observed on February 9, 1946. It is likely that Hoseda-Hard got a degree or two colder than the remarkable -70°F measured on Friday, since the station only reported temperatures once every three hours. The high temperature Friday in Hoseda-Hard was a not-so-balmy -49°F (-45°C)!

Figure 1. Departure of surface temperature from average for February 19, 2010. Temperatures at Europe's "Pole of Cold" (dark purple colors) were more than 40°F (22°C) below average. The white dot marks the location of Hoseda-Hard, Russia, which recorded a remarkable -70°F (-56.4°C) at 9am local time that day--the second coldest temperature ever measured in Europe. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Figure 2. A monument in Europe's "Pole of Cold" near Hoseda-Hard, Russia, marking the location of the Arctic Circle. Image credit: Mactak.

Exceptional February heat in Africa
I credit weather historian and extreme weather expert Chris Burt, author of Extreme Weather, for pointing out the incredible cold in Russia on Friday. Chris also noted that on Saturday, February 20, the temperature in Birni-N'Konni, Niger hit 112°F (44.3°C). This is just 3°F (1.7°C) below the warmest temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere in February--the 115°F reading from Abeche, Chad (date unknown).

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Jeff Masters

Winter Weather

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