It was Alfred Wainwright who said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
While this may be true for most situations, there are places where the weather is so severe that no matter what you wear, the elements are bound to come out on top.
Pack your sandals, shorts, thermal trousers and perhaps even a windproof umbrella – as we embark on an extreme weather tour of the world.
Slip your feet into ice skates, or strap on your snowshoes – you’ll need them in the coldest inhabited place on earth. The isolated Russian village of Oymyakon has a population of just 472 – not surprising given its shiver inducing, monthly mean temperature of -46°C.
It’s not just the villagers of Oymyakon, who have it tough. Inhabitants of the Canadian research facility ‘Eureka’ spend the whole year dressed in thermal trousers and super warm coats. With the world’s lowest annual mean temperature of -19.7°C, stepping outside in your jeans and sweater can be fatal.
For a more accessible chilly city, try Winnipeg. The Manitoban capital is dubbed “Winter-peg”, as temperatures rarely reach double figures even in the summer. Once in 1879 the thermometer fell to a bone chilling -47.8°C!
Many of us like to escape the gloom of the British winter. So if you like to wear your shorts and t-shirt in winter, how about a holiday to Dallol in Ethiopia? The town is a little short on tourist facilities, but it’s consistently sunny. Between 1960 and 1966, the mean daily temperature was 41.1°C, making it on average, the hottest town on earth.
Even the most dedicated sun worshiper would think twice about rolling out their towel in Death Valley. The record temperature there is 56.7°C, which in a place where people run marathons and visit for tourism, is really something.
Unlike Dallol and Death valley, no one has ever lived in the Lut desert of Iran. This is hardly surprising given the temperature there has reached 71°C – the highest ever recorded.
Chicago is called the “windy city” but it’s nothing compared to Wellington. The New Zealand capital once recorded a wind speed of 248km/h. Certainly not weather for a sun hat.
Wellington is built on the edge of the Cook Strait. There, a gap in the mountain range running the length of the North and South islands creates a wind funnel that accelerates the air blowing through it. The effect is strongest on the Wellington side, making this one of the most windy cities on earth.
Wellingtonians must be very fond of windy weather – the shape of the capital’s Westpac Stadium, aka the Cake Tin, creates a vortex – was that by accident or design? So if you go and watch the All Blacks play, you may wish to take a windproof umbrella.
Here in Britain we get out and about despite the rain – donning our waxed jackets and rubber wellingtons to fend off precipitation. But in some places, you may just want to stay inside.
Separated by just 10 miles, inhabitants of the Indian towns of Cherrapunj and Mawsnyram must fight over the title for wettest place on earth. In June and July you can expect 120 inches of rain there, more than double the UK annual average of 45 inches.
Jump into moon boots and visit the Mars coloured sand of San Pedro de Atacama. Chile’s Atacama desert is the driest place on earth, but that doesn’t stop flip-flop wearing backpackers from visiting.
Due to the minuscule 15 mm of annual rainfall, there’s a 3 minute shower limit. So you have to wash your hair quickly, or everyone goes thirsty.
If you do decide to visit the Chilean desert, don’t forget to pack something warm to wear. Daytime temperatures maybe scorching, but at night, the mercury can fall to -10°C.
Find yourself a time machine and head back to 1922 Libya. If the statistics recorded at the time are correct, the temperature soared to a scorching 57°C with 100% humidity. Dehumidifiers would do you no good here.
Can’t get your hands on a time machine but still want to get hot and sweaty? With an average annual humidity of 84.2%, you could try Singapore. In Singapore’s popular tourist spots and streets you’re sure to swelter, but if you feel a bit faint, there’s many air-conditioned shops and restaurants in which to retreat.
Do you know of any more extreme weather locations we might have missed?