It Was 38 Degrees in Siberia Today. Yes, That Siberia

A view of an energy plant's dumpsite in Novosibirsk, a city in the Russian region of Siberia. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov, Getty Images)
A view of an energy plant's dumpsite in Novosibirsk, a city in the Russian region of Siberia. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov, Getty Images)

A freak heatwave has been scorching most of the Arctic for weeks now, but it broke records Saturday when the temperature hit 38 degrees Celsius in a town in Siberia, one of Russia’s northernmost regions.

It’s likely the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle, CBS meteorologist Jeff Berardelli wrote on Twitter, though the recording is still pending verification.

If you’re having trouble parsing why this is such a big deal, here’s a dose of perspective that’ll make your eyes bulge out: Verkhoyansk, a town that’s even farther north than Fairbanks, Alaska, has had the same number of 38-degree days on record as Miami, Florida. (Sure, it’s only one, but tell me that’s not insane.)

Reports of the record-shattering heat quickly went viral online, shared by meteorologists worldwide and even Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg. While 2019 was Russia’s hottest on record, this year already seems poised to surpass that. Last month, Siberia reported temperatures almost 40 degrees above normal for this time of year. (Also, parts of the region caught on fire. And since you know what they say about bad news coming in threes, I’m waiting for some Godzilla-like kaiju to emerge from the melted ice).

Verkhoyansk, which is home to a little more than a 1,000 people, also holds the record for where you can find the greatest temperature ranges on Earth. While the weather there cooled down to around 27 by Saturday evening, temperatures regularly fall well below zero, with the lowest recorded at -67 degrees.

This weekend’s historic heat is simply the latest horror in the Arctic as the region continues to get royally screwed by the impacts of climate change. Last month, sea ice extent reached the lowest level ever recorded in May. I know I’ve said before that 2020 seriously needs some chill, but this time, I mean it literally.