World

Extreme World: Your weather experiences

A winter swimmer at a lake near Novosibirsk, Siberia
Image caption A winter swimmer at a lake near Novosibirsk, Siberia. Russia celebrates Walrus Day at the end of January. (Picture: Aleksandr Krjazhev)

As part of the BBC's season on extremes, we are looking at how people cope under different weather conditions. People have been emailing the BBC with their experiences of extreme climates. Here is a selection of their comments.

Your experiences

Some years ago I was doing some agricultural trials in the Sudan on the Gezira Scheme. We were planting peanuts. Due to the heat, work started at 0400 and finished at noon. Heat was 44C and dry - until they opened the irrigation sluice gates from the Nile. The hot water hit the hotter soil. The heat shimmer erupted and it was like a sauna. The change in a matter of minutes was phenomenal. Roger Hartley, Sydney, Australia

I live in Tthenaago, an isolated First Nations village in the far north of Canada. In the heart of winter temperatures can plunge to -45C or colder, and last year I was "fortunate" enough to experience a night with a windchill factor of -56C. A temperature of -40C and below holds a special place in the heart of us northerners. The world starts to change when temperatures dip that low, weird clouds appear in the sky, sounds take on baffling intensity, and a profound stillness settles over everything. David, Tthenaago, Canada

I've lived abroad as an expatriate Brit, mostly in Canada, for 20 years. Last week where I live was officially described as the second coldest place on earth after Antarctica. It was brutally cold. Life takes on a whole new dimension and stoicism becomes a mainstay of society under these conditions. Canadian winter presents graduated problems for its victims. For the office worker cold is an inconvenience. For those of us who work in the elements, it is a hazard to be overcome and it is largely a personal battle as the individual prepares for the cold in their own ways. I work for a major railway company as a locomotive engineer and I am tasked with coaxing trains of leviathan weights and lengths over Rocky Mountain grades in the depths of sub-zero conditions. Apart from the daily grinds of mechanical failures in such temperatures which present potentially lethal problems for train crews, avalanches also become a constant risk. Additionally rails become brittle and can shatter under stress beneath a train. At least the grizzly bears that hang around in summer are usually utilising common sense and sleep through most of it. However, I've been stalked by at least one mountain lion when the snow was up to my waist. Regularly crews are compelled to trudge along the length of a two mile long train suspended on the side of a mountain at all times of day and night - alone, which requires a unique blend of courage and stupidity. Usually we carry flares that we can use to thaw out rigid air hoses or frozen brake valves which are the usual culprits in such circumstances. It's always a nightmare though and crews dread the unexpected. Mark Bretherton, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

I've been in the UK for four years doing my PhD, but originally I am from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. I like staying here, but what I really miss - apart my friends and relatives - is a proper winter. I feel really sick when I don't see snow in the winter, especially at Christmas time. Low temperatures aren't hard to survive. It's fun. Taras, Hove, UK

Finnish winters cannot match Siberian offerings, but -40C is not unknown here. At that temperature cars have a difficulty as they can freeze up within an hour of being left. Not that it's hard to get the engine running - but when the gearstick shears off in the hand, you know it's cold. When it's necessary to put both feet on the dashboard in order to get enough leverage on the steering wheel to turn it, you know it's cold. And when you look at the outside thermometer which shows only -15C, you can feel happy, because Spring has arrived. Raymond Hopkins, Kronoby, Finland

I live in the city of Hangzhou, China which during the summer can reach 45C in some areas. That doesn't sound very extreme compared to some deserts. But what makes Hangzhou different is that it is extremely humid year round. The extreme humidity combined with the desert like heat makes this a hellishly hot place to be in the summer. Oddly enough neighbouring Shanghai, only one hour away by car, does not get nearly as hot or humid as Hangzhou does. I've never experienced heat anywhere else that even comes close to Hangzhou. Hangzhou is also known for "hot rain" which is exactly what it sounds like. An experience very similar to being in a hot shower everywhere you go. Alex, Hangzhou, China

I was with the British army in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003 the temperature most days during the summer was 54C, it was just amazing, but you do get used to it after a while. In Kuwait we had a sandstorm that lasted three days. The sweat used to make your clothes stiff with salt. You had to drink litres of water a day - all bottled and delivered by truck. Glen Towler, Wellington, New Zealand

Nagpur one of the cities in central India, though not a desert, has extremely hot summers with temperatures ranging around 50C from April to mid-June, or until the rain arrives. People in the city often have sun stroke, and all roads are empty after 1100 in the morning. People wrap themselves up when they go out to cover their skin or else they would burn in the sun. The city is also a source of coal and thermal power plants and I'm sure their emissions don't help. What we recommend in India is that when out in the hot sun keep a cut onion in your pocket and smell it when you feel dizzy in the hot air. Dr Arshi Khan, Nagpur, India

Being from sunny California where below freezing is unthinkable, I was in for a big surprise when I lived for a bit in northern Inner Mongolia. It was -40C without the wind-chill factor. There is nothing quite like trying to walk wearing five long johns, a pair of pants, two long-sleeve shirts, a sweater, three pairs of wool socks, a calf-length down coat, a scarf, a hat, gloves, and sheepskin boots with the woolly part on the inside. My glasses were the most trouble. Going out iced them up and coming in fogged them up. It was easier just to be blind. Jessy of California, previously of Inner Mongolia

My son lives and works in central Siberia and I have visited in winter when temperatures have been -40C and also in summer at 40C. Russian people in general and Siberian inhabitants in particular are the friendliest people you could ever meet, and I remember going on skis for the first time in my life into the middle of a Siberian forest at -32C to have a barbecue. John Mitchell, York, UK

I am from Norilsk - a closed city in Siberia where the average temperature is -19C. In winter it is regularly below -40C and of course we have no daylight for several months. I moved to London four years ago - it is very amusing how useless your country is when you get a small dose of cold weather. To me it is still warm! In Norilsk we would wear light clothes and even T-shirts when it was -10C. Slava Yakupov, London, UK

Having grown up in the UK I was nowhere near prepared when I moved over to Canada almost exactly three years ago. I walked out of the airport into -15C temperatures wearing my "winter" clothing, which at the time consisted of a thicker pair of jeans and my leather jacket zipped up rather than left open. In that first weekend we had nearly half a metre of snow, and by the end of that winter nearly four and a half metres had piled up in the street outside my apartment. Since then I have not only grown accustomed to the cold, I am actually enjoying it. Even walking to work at -30C has its attractions. Although these days winter clothing consists of proper sorel-lined boots, snow pants, a parka, good thick gloves and a windstopper fleece hat. John Chapman, Ottawa, Canada

I live in the capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk. It is situated in the middle of Siberia, closer to Mongolia and Kazakhstan. As far as I remember it was not really bad until couple of years ago. Of course, the normal temperature is range from -20C to -30C, but people do not mind. However, the last two or three years things have totally changed. Last year we ended up having -30C for three months, while before the temperature could only last for a week or so. Is it the fault of climate change? Maybe. Wealthy people are trying to escape winter by going abroad to countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Irina, Novosibirsk, Russia

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