If Russian winters weren't miserable and dreary, we wouldn't have Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. In fact, the month of December 2000 saw just three hours of sunlight in Moscow, the New York Times reports. That benchmark was just shattered, however, with Moscow experiencing its "darkest December" ever, the paper notes, soaking in a whole six minutes of sun over all of last month. The average for December in the country's capital is 18 hours. This followed an atypically wet and chilly summer, which prompted more than the usual number of calls to local mental health services and visits to psychiatrists. "When they hear about this, many people say, 'It's clear now why I was depressed,'" Roman Vilfand, the head of Russia's weather service, says. Vilfand notes the bleakness was brought about by warm air masses sweeping in from the Atlantic and saturating the sky with clouds.
The lack of sunlight isn't the only issue now that it's winter. With the darkness comes extreme cold, with temperatures throughout Russia plummeting into deep-freeze territory. In Yakutsk (also spelled Yakutia), generally considered to be the country's coldest area, temps have hovered at around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the BBC reports. The Siberian Times notes it was so cold in Oymyakon, sometimes dubbed the coldest village in the world, that a new, recently installed electronic thermometer actually broke. To underscore the brutal weather, one local Yakutskian posted a picture of herself on Instagram showing her bundled up, her eyelashes crusted with ice. "This is nothing but a trip to work in [-52]," she posted. "Now, every girl in Yakutsk has a photo like this." (It's approaching Antarctic levels there.)