While I was exploring the web for links in my post about my fascination with Yakustk, I found a wonderful set of photos on flickr from Bolot Bochkarev, a journalist in Yakutsk (pictured here with his wife). This photo below is from his collection (He describes it this way: “Don’t know why in the picture everything appear so muddy. Maybe, my hand was so shaking, because it was cold, minus 40 degrees Celsius. Or fog was too thick. Whatever it might be, but I like the shot.”). I encourage readers to check out his flickr site. Bolot is a wonderful photographer!
I found I could submit questions to him, so I wrote and referred him to my blog post and asked if he would be willing to answer several questions about the weather. He soon replied:
“Marie, the perfect post you creаted! much research done! thank you! do not even know what to add 🙂 right now i have throat ache, cаn’t writе much viа mobile. in 2 days ill bе all right and ready to answer your questions. is it ok? bеst wishеs, bolot.”
After waiting a few days for his recovery, I sent along my many questions, and this morning his answers arrived! I’m so excited and want to share them with you:
1. Let’s start with illness, since you just had a sore throat. Does being in the extreme cold cause illness, especially respiratory illness? Does being indoors a lot spread illness? For example, are there outbreaks of flu when everybody gets sick?
Right, in winter we, locals, must be very careful, wear warm clothes on every occasion, even if we go outdoors for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes we ignore precausions saying ‘Nothing will happen to us, if I spend just a few minutes outside without hat or scarf, or smoke just one cigarette,’ and as result we get all kinds of respiratory illness. Flu outbreaks usually appear with warm spell. When temperature rises from -40C to -20C. We may get flu in public transports, stores, homes, work places. When flu outbreak is registered in the city, kids may have school off and recommended to not visit public places and stay home.
2. What are indoor temperatures like when it is -50 degrees or so outside? Do people keep their homes on the cool side or very warm? What is the source of heat for homes?
Indoor temperatures depend on building’s heating system. When it works well, it might be very hot inside. If the system wasn’t prepared good enough for heating season, it might be chilly. By the way, in fall we must insulate windows, i.e. put additional warm layers on windows bars, so cold couldn’t get inside through small fissures. We like when it is warm inside, actually. We get heat from city’s centralized heating system, some from boiler-houses.
3. How long does it take to get dressed to go outside in the extreme cold? What do people wear to protect themselves? Lots of layers? Furs? Is there a difference in how young people dress compared with older people (one of your flickr photos suggests this might be the case)
I try not to hurry 🙂 So getting dressed may take 8-10 minutes. I wear a shirt, thin sweater, Canada Goose Heli-Arctic Parka, one thick wool pants, ordinary trousers, fur reindeer skin boots, leather hat with warm wool layer inside, warm leather gloves. Ladies prefer huge fur coat, fur hats, high reindeer skin boots. Young people like stylish parkas, actually they worry more about appearance than about keeping themselves in warm.
In winter we spend most time inside. We try spend time outside only when we are on the way to work, home, shops, etc. Kids stay inside all the day round, or just a few seconds outside enough for reaching a car and getting inside. No, we don’t celebrate the winter solstice. We have Winter Farewell Holiday (that’s the Russian tradition) on the last Sunday in March.
7. Does the city ever shut down because of extreme cold? Does transportation ever come to a halt?
8. How do people move around in the city in the winter? Are there problems with mobility?
In my case, I prefer to live in other places only for short-term work experience 🙂 Locals think like “If I want to see the world, to change the place of live is not necessary, it is enough to buy fly tickets and go on vocation.”
11. Does Yakutsk have a “personality?” How would you describe people of Yakutsk? Their outlook on life?
Thunderstorms happen. Rains may continue a week long. But sunny days prevail.
Winter = the midth of October — the end of April.
Spring = May
Summer = the midth of June — the midth of August
Fall = the midth August – September – and maybe a few days in October
Wow, I did it.
Sorry for keeping silence.
These days we have NY Holidays. Will rest till Jan. 11 🙂
Happy New Year!
Wish you all the best and unwindy days in Chicago.
I’ve in the City of Winds in 2001 and 2002.
Your winter is very crafty and harsh. I got sick on the 2nd day of my visit in January.
But summer is perfect 🙂
Best wishes in 2009!
Bolot also has a blog, and posted his answers to my questions there as well.
Thank you Bolot! Your answers are most fascinating, and I am so happy to have a Yakutsk pen pal!!