1. Running outside is pretty comfortable with the proper equipment until about -20F, but is possible down to around -40s as long as you wrap something around your face and/or have clothing to "pre-warm" your air. At around -60F breathing deeply (and not into your coat) becomes painful and dangerous.
2. Metal "burns" and blisters your hands from -20F and below. The fast transfer of heat from your hands from things like snow can make them numb and inoperable in seconds.
3. The triple combination of battery blanket/oil pan heater/block heater is usually winning, but nothing beats a garage. The worst part about living off campus was walking a half mile from class AND THEN sitting in your car for 15 minutes waiting for it to become drivable.
4. It's amazing what humans can adapt to. If it was a 5 minute walk I would usually just have a big and avoid the time-consuming, but best way to stay warm (parka + layering). Also I'd usually wear jeans. When it would bump up to 20F people would be wearing shorts outside.
(From comments) - We have never had problems (I was only there six years, anecdotal) with weather interfering with internet/cell service. Some jack-ass clipped a fiber cable once, but that's all I can remember.
(From comments) - A lot of our buildings go 2-3 floors underground. We still have tunnels linking buildings together, but they are no longer accessible by the students.
As far as work goes the pipeline runs through Fairbanks, but the main centers of employment I saw were the University and the Military Base.
I've been out Caribou hunting in -48C snowshoeing around right near the Arctic Circle.
Snag is just down the road, where it was once -63.9C (-83F) - the coldest temp ever recorded in North America.
I'm originally from Australia, so this kind of thing is Alien to me, and I think I do a decent job of explaining what it's like.
AMA if you're curious about anything. (clothes, cars, etc.)
It's extremely common to meet people here that say "I came for one summer...20 years ago" because it's so beautiful and the massive array of outdoor activities make it very hard to leave.
 Alaska->Argentina http://theroadhcoseme.com
I don't wear glasses and don't have a problem with dry eyes, though sometimes my eyelashes start to freeze together - it kind of depends how hard you're breathing and how much condensation is building up on your face. Some people wear ski goggles when it gets really cold - but mine are dark and no good when the sun is not up :)
We also have cabin heaters for cars (typically in the 1000 W range) but they are more for the convenience (but also safety, car windows are clear when you drive off, and vapor from breath doesn't condense and freeze to the insides of the windows).
Block Heater: Like you mention, in the 500W range and heats the coolant (basically a kettle element)
Oil Pan Heater: A stick-on heater that goes on the underside of the oil pan, usually in the 200-500W range. It heats the oil, because past about -35C oil has the consistency of butter, even synthetic will do that past about -40C. If you have a big vehicle, you stick more than one on.
Battery Blanket: Like an electric heating blanket for the battery. If the battery freezes, it's done for, so you don't want that. You'll also get a lot more current out of a warm battery, which is critical when you turn the key at -40C and have to spin all that cold oil.
Everyone also puts cardboard or whatever in front of their radiator for the winter so when you drive on the highway the vehicle can actually get up to running temperature.
 BTW there is a legend here that in Siberia people actually keep a fire under engines to warm it up. I even found a photograph of lorries to support this:
Not sure if I would do it with gasoline engines. With diesel engines it's quite understandable, particularly if you have summer-grade diesel fuel that starts to congeal in -15C.
These areas, in Siberia and northern NA are much colder at times, even when they aren't within the Arctic Circle, so their situation might be considerably different.
Now if you live in Kiruna or Luleå or so, things are a bit different...
 It is true that modern cars don't need a block heater to start up successfully, but heating the engine before starting reduces fuel consumption and emissions radically.
All the internet is capped, which is the worst part.
As soon as you're out of town, you can only get DSL, up to a maximum of 15Mbps, though most people top out at 5Mbps due to distance from exchange. Checkout the only provider for more prices http://www.nwtel.ca/personal/internet/packages (I work for them...)
Cell phones are good now - 3G in pretty much every town, though basically nothing between towns. It's normal to do a 6 hour drive and only have coverage for 30 mins of that.
In the bigger cities there are rarely weather related interruptions - as must stuff is on fiber, though once you start getting out things change. Of course, if you're in a town of 100 people in or very near the Arctic Circle you have to expect you're not getting 100Mbps internet with no interruptions.... it's all about expectations.
One of the reasons I moved up here was to be outside in the environment, so it's enjoyable to throw on my jacket and gloves and get out there in it and watch the seasons/daylight/weather change day-to-day.
Remember too that in summer the days are ~20 hours long and I'm surrounded by beautiful mountains...
I can walk around in -20C wearing a marino base layer and my "light" down jacket no problem, while people wearing 4 layers of cotton freeze their asses off.
Why there are two different authors on boredpanda and wired.com.
Did wired.com steal this article?
I guess when you spend that much time and effort for pictures you want to recoup that as best as possible.
The human mind is a funny thing. When you're born and grow up somewhere it feels very intuitive to live there. The same reason most people don't live BFE North Dakota for the small cost of bus ticket. It just feels like home and most people don't give it much of a thought.
Unless they eat it while it's still frozen, why is this noteworthy?
> Most people use outhouses, because indoor plumbing tends to freeze.
This is due to their poverty, not the cold. If it was just cold there, as opposed to cold and impoverished, they could either keep water constantly running through the pipes, or, if that won't work, insulate them better, possibly with heating coils.
"It's so cold, they make sure they have to go outside just to perform basic bodily functions" sounds a bit... insane? Idiotic? Poorly-written and probably badly-researched?
> Cars are kept in heated garages or, if left outside, left running all the time.
This isn't unusual. Block heaters also work, and might represent a fuel savings once the electricity infrastructure to plug in all of them is in place.
> Crops don’t grow in the frozen ground, so people have a largely carnivorous diet—reindeer meat, raw flesh shaved from frozen fish, and ice cubes of horse blood with macaroni are a few local delicacies.
This isn't so much due to the cold as it is due to poverty, and possibly local culture.
> Chapple found it difficult to speak with the people he encountered, as many people were rushing as fast as possible from one oasis of warmth to another.
Was he determined to do his interviews outside? I can understand him wanting to take pictures outside as much as possible, and his camera freezing wasn't something I thought modern cameras were especially prone to, but interviews don't need to be done out in the cold.
Unless you're the kind of person determined to climb a radio mast to get an overview shot of a town. Maybe if you're that person, everything needs to be done in the most... dramatic way possible.
Also, tools like "block heaters" don't apply to the entire vehicle and all of it's inter-dependent parts. In that kind of cold, things like transmission fluid, and even door handles stop functioning normally.
I'm pretty sure that's what it's saying. I also don't think keeping water constantly running through pipes is necessarily enough to keep things from freezing at 40 degrees below zero.
> This is due to their poverty, not the cold. If it was just cold there, as opposed to cold and impoverished, they could either keep water constantly running through the pipes, or, if that won't work, insulate them better, possibly with heating coils.
Outhouses are common in Alaska (outside of cities) as well, and it isn't exactly "poverty", but it is a significant cost to keep pipes from freezing.
Cameras will suffer similar issues. Lithium Ion batteries are only rated down to -20degC. Below that, the internal impedance of the battery rapidly increases as temperature decreases, and you get extremely shortened battery life. I once tested a product I designed, that normally works for 24 hours, and got only 2.5 hours from it at -40degC.
>Unless they eat it while it's still frozen, why is this noteworthy?
eating frozen meat is a lifestyle detail there. Note - it is high fat meat (or fatty fish) which doesn't become firm hard brick like lean meat would. Also there is no mentioning of vodka(diluted ethanol) which goes very well (and i'd suspect - just from my gut (i mean real gut :) feeling helps to digest) with those fat meat/fish slices.
Thawing meat takes time & energy. It may very well be more convenient to just eat it frozen, especially if you're working outside and your lunch is frozen by ambient temperatures as the norm.
Keep water constantly running thru the pipes
That's a LOT of water - where do you get it from? where do you put it when it's too cool to use? Remember, this is an environment where most water is frozen; liquid water is an anomaly.
More importantly: you're overlooking where the septic drainage pipe is going. You don't "constantly run water thru" that pipe. It doesn't go to a community sewage system. It goes...somewhere out in the back yard. You can't keep the full length of that pipe, and where it's going, sufficiently warm.
insulate [pipes] better
Insulation delays thermal loss, but does not halt it. Where is the heat source? heating coils? that's more costly energy being pumped into a low-value pipe to fight extreme temperature differentials compounded by the thermal mass of water.
What you're imputing should be in place will cost a lot more than you expect. We're talking an environment where dirt itself is frozen deep down, all working at sinking any heat you pump in.
block heaters work
Ok, the block isn't frozen then. But your tires are - literally, the rubber on your tires is rock solid - and the flat side of the tire contacting the ground doesn't flex when rotating so you get an extremely bumpy ride just for starters. Speaking of starters, your starter is frozen. And the door handles. The door hinge may not give. The battery may not start. Your wiper fluid ("works to 40 below!" and temps hit -50 last night) is a block of ice. You'll have to heat the entire car just to make it function in a tolerable manner ... easier just to get on a bike (which you can easily keep warm inside) or walk.
[several imputations of blame on poverty]
Consider the _relative_ poverty. Just flushing the toilet or opening the car door just went from thoughtlessly free to significant/nontrivial cost. Crops are nearly nonexistent, almost any food not local meat has to be shipped thousands of miles to a low-demand location. Suddenly EVERYTHING costs much more just because it's so blasted cold out. Your (yes, you) normal expenses just went up 10x. Want to eat? cheapest way is go hunting out your back door. Want to, er, egest? outhouse.
The people there aren't necessarily "poor", it's that the cost of living - in a manner not consistent with certain realities of the environment - is very high.
his camera freezing wasn't something I thought modern cameras were especially prone to
Again, you underestimate how very cold it is outside there, and how pervasive that cold is. Modern cameras, generally speaking, are not built for use at seriously sub-zero temperatures.
interviews don't need to be done out in the cold
But talking to "the man in the street" does. He wanted to interview people he'd never met, people who were just walking by. If you're talking about serious outdoor cold, as regards to people rushing from one oasis of warmth to another, you're going to find yourself in the difficult position of trying to talk to people rushing from one oasis of warmth to another and who are uninterested in talking to strangers about how cold it is.
Septic tanks do have to be built differently, but they do work at extreme temperatures.
Yes, you do insulate pipes better, yes you do also use heat tape to prevent pipes from freezing. This is pretty standard practice. In general, if you're heating something in the ground, you're going to have it well insulated, and heat it to barely above freezing. The ground, though frozen does provide a great deal of insulation as well. When the air is really cold, the ground is going to be significantly warmer The big issue here is melting that permafrost and causing the ground to sink. This wrecks foundations and cracks pipes.
Yes, we do use block heaters, but you also have to start your car and let it warm up for quite a while before driving. Cars do behave differently at -40, but they are still usable. Once you start dropping below -50F, cars do start behaving really poorly. I wouldn't recommend biking in those temperatures unless you know what you're doing. My dad usually stops riding his bike to work at around -30F.
Yes, the cost of living (for many, but not all things) is higher in remote areas. No, the cost does not rise 10x.
Heating is a big expense, but can be mitigated by building well insulated homes. There is a high prevalance of dry cabins for lower incomes, since the lack of plumbing means you can afford to let a building freeze if you don't have tenants to pay for heat. That said, you can also heat or supplement the heat for your house the old fashioned way, with a wood burning stove.
Yes, many of the issues (and choice) above have a lot of do with poverty. Most of the ways you can reduce the costs of living in an extreme environment (high quality windows, good insulation, a heated garage for your car) require initial outlays of capital. Solutions like wood burning stoves and outhouses mitigate that to some extent.
The article seemed poorly written and researched to me. It's amusing to watch people speculate about things they don't understand.
That's exactly what we do here. The town _requires_ all households to have a bleeder turned on from about Nov-April at a rate of 1 Litre/minute. This is a small hose which is routed directly from your supply line into your drain pipe. The system is continuously cycling water through the line.
You're correct in that this isn't cheap, but it's much cheaper than the alternative (water mains freezing).
You can see the advisory on the town's page here:
"ATTENTION RESIDENTS: PLEASE TURN ON WATER BLEEDERS
Winter is here! Please ensure all water bleeders are TURNED ON!! They should be turned on at the rate of one litre per minute. Don't let your pipes freeze up on you!!" 
They are. Try using your modern DSLR in even -10C for a day. You better bring some spare batteries with you.
If I were to go on a photo safari in such cold I'd bring a mechanical Leica range finder camera (possibly a model completely without any electronics) and film. At least as a backup.
> This is due to their poverty, not the cold.
I'm more worried about the physiologic consequences of exposing, um, private parts to minus a bajillion degrees. I'm pretty sure you have to finish in a couple minutes, max, or else all sorts of really bad things will happen.
I've actually been in Sydney when it was like 46 degrees (record year or something). People just started walking into the Ocean
The important thing to note is that there are actually places on Earth that are in some peculiar respects less habitable than Mars. Overall they're not, but in terms of specifics like temperature they are. Mars settlement is achievable, assuming we can physically get there for less than the insanely high costs NASA throws around.
The location of this town probably wouldn't be habitable (or barely so) without a lot of imported electric and fossil fuel energy.
You would lose heat by radiation, but that happens on earth too.
Conversely something at 50F would warm up slower (i.e. it would "feel" colder to it).
You could think of it as a giant vacuum thermos.
Here's part one of his trip to this region:
The site's hard to navigate. You may have to hit "english" at the top right (assuming you don't want the Russian version) since it may not retain language state through links. The "veni, vidi" link on the top left will take you back to the master list, so you can find the other parts of the trip if you're interested. Photos with little squares on the top right are actually little galleries. Click the other squares to change the image.
Unrelated insights gained from the site:
* The smaller touristy Pacific islands are typically covered in garbage.
* Former British colonies are usually OK, former French colonies are usually awful.
* Ethiopia looks like a pretty cool place to visit.
-58F is -50C
-90F is -67C
28C is 82F
add 40--convert (9/5 or 5/9) -- subtract 40
or, as I tend to use,
add 40--convert (2 or 1/2) -- subtract 40.
I am pretty fluent in conversion just by remembering that 10 Celsius degrees are equivalent to 18 Fahrenheit degrees, then practicing counting by 10s:
-4°F, 14°F, 32°F, 50°F, 68°F, 86°F, 104°F
Once you have those under your belt you can figure most earthly air temperatures pretty quickly and exactly.
About 15 years ago I remember reading an article on a magazine about the coldest town on Earth, I was most fascinated by people having to walk backwards, and boiling water freezing mid-air, something I forgot to try while in Canada.
I'm not sure if we're just unlucky, but there's usually a lot of places much further north than us that are warmer.
Mercury doesn't plunge to -90 (C or F) because mercury has a melting point at -37.9 °F or -38.8 °C.
This is a fairly common fallacy from people who aren't thinking through. Thermometers used in cold places usually have coloured alcohol as liquid, not mercury.
I think most Western countries have actually got rid of mercury thermometers altogether, because it's poisonous and also because it's a too nice material to make bomb detonators.
Pass me the Kleenex?
Give the Tesla some gas, let's go man!
Year upon year you dig down, until eventually you have another floor's worth of space, then the original house becomes the top/second floor, and the new "basement" becomes a new area.
I would add that I wouldn't want soil to be literally the walls of the lower level, as frozen soil conducts away heat from the air extremely effectively. So what you'd likely want to do is set up an insulated layer between the soil and the living space.
It is also worth noting that heat rises, so you'll still lose a lot of heat if the new basement doesn't have a VERY well insulated roof. Then you could just pop out the front of the old house, add doors, and now you have a garage for the car.
It isn't that crazy of an idea. But it would take several years (minimum 3-4) and cost you a few thousand just for insolation (both new roof and new walls), and also for new structural supports if you want to do the house-to-garage thing (to hold the car's weight).
That's what documents like http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/publications-db/catalog/eeh/HCM... say:
> Make every attempt to keep the soil beneath the building frozen and the permafrost stable. The strategy for alleviating the engineering risks of building on permafrost sites is to build the structure on piles or an elevated foundation, taking special care to insulate the ground and prevent thawing.
Permafrost melts. Houses in a swamp. \o/ http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/impacts/signs/permafrost....
Also as someone who's grown up in winters that regularily hit -40 and -50, it can't have been that cold otherwise you wouldn't have pictures of people without a toque on, or a scarf/neckwarmer.