Siberian snap thrills Czech frost hunter

Antonín Vojvodík, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic has been gripped by a bout of severe cold. On Tuesday night, temperatures in some parts of the country dropped to a record low of -30 degrees Celsius. The near-Arctic weather which has gripped most of Europe is the result of a cold front from Siberia. While most people are keeping indoors to avoid catching a cold or slipping on an icy pavement, there are some who hope temperatures will drop as low as possible.

Antonín Vojvodík,  photo: CTK
Amateur meteorologist Antonín Vojvodík from the Šumava mountains has been recording temperatures around the village of Horská Kvilda for the past forty years. He set up his own monitoring station in the mountain valley of Jezerní slať, one of the coldest places in the country. He complains that the recent winters were unusually mild, with temperatures never dropping below -30:

“Over the past three years, monitoring stations have not recorded temperatures dropping below -30 degrees. Years ago it was normal for night temperatures to drop at least to -30 or even lower. A record low was recorded on January 30, 1987 and it was -41.6. The lowest temperature this winter was registered on December 20 at Jezerní slať and it was -28.7.”

Antonín Vojvodík moved to the Šumava region of south Bohemia in 1974. That same year in July, he was riding a bike early in the morning through the village of Horská Kvilda and the whole plain was covered in frost. That was when he decided to set up an amateur meteorological station. He gradually created a whole network of stations, including the one at Jezerní Slať. The coldest temperature he experienced out in the open was -37 degrees Celsius. What does it feel like to be outside in such icy weather?

Antonín Vojvodík,  photo: CTK
“When you go out early in the morning, before sunrise, and the temperatures are way below zero, you get a strange feeling, as if someone is talking right behind your back. Then you realize that the sound is coming from a distance of three or four kilometres, but in the dry, freezing air sound travels much further. When it is 32 or below, you can hear the sound of birches and maple trees cracking, the freeze literally rips up the tree trunks. It is a weird sound that sends shivers down your spine.”

Forecasters are finally predicting an end to the Siberian freeze with temperatures in the coming days expected to gradually climb towards zero.