It Was –100 Degrees in America This Weekend. Here's What That Feels Like

© Alberto Restifo / Unsplash
© Alberto Restifo / Unsplash
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor8 January 2018

Cold? Yeah, us too.

You take comfort in the fact that however cold it is where you are you right now, it’s probably not –100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in the US reached 100 below this weekend, thanks to the bomb cyclone currently sweeping America.

Would you manage to survive in -100 degree weather? | © Kacper Szczechla / Unsplash

Overnight on Friday, it hit –40 degrees, with 100-mile-per-hour winds causing the temperature to drop to –100 (–73 degrees Celsius) with windchill.

Adam Gill is a weather observer and IT specialist at the Mt. Washington Observatory, which records information and temperature, visibility and wind speed hourly at the summit. He spoke to Travel + Leisure about what’s it’s like living and working in one of the world’s coldest environments.

Frostbite is one of the most immediate concerns, and it can happen in just 30 seconds. After a couple of minutes exposed, you’re looking at permanent damage. Gill says: ‘Your skin starts to burn, kind of like if you’re holding your hand too close to a hot fire.

‘When you first step outside, to breathe is more difficult, because the air is cold and dry. It’s kind of like walking outside and walking into super cold water.’

Baby, it’s cold outside | © Willian Justen de Vasconcellos / Unsplash

Wearing the right clothes is essential – and not for fashion reasons. Forget vanity, because you’ll be wearing layers on layers on layers. Long-sleeve t-shirts, thermal underlayers, practical down jackets, windproof coats, insulated trousers and, of course, hats, gloves, face masks, goggles and boots. Gill says: ‘You’re trying to prevent that cold wind from penetrating the layers, but it does anyway.’

The fun things you can look forward to in weather this cold include the inside of your nostrils freezing, your eyelashes freezing together and tears being frozen on your cheeks.

Gill told T+L that, after coming inside, he warms up by hopping on an exercise bike for a few minutes or by cuddling the observatory’s indoor cat, Marty. Now that’s a strategy we can get behind.

Stay cosy, comrades | © Pigoff PhotographY / Unsplash

Despite his tolerance, though, Gill gets sick of the freezing weather. He said: ‘Last week when we were up here, we had three or four days in a row where the temperatures didn’t get above –20.

‘By the third or fourth day, it was just kind of like, “I can’t wait for it to get warmer, or to get off the mountain to get to the valley, where it’s at least zero.”‘

Keep warm, everyone.