ukhta: the environs

The first question I usually get on announcing I’m going to teach in Russia next year is: “Where?”

And then I say, “Ukhta!” And then my listener, perhaps fearing to break a trend, perhaps hoping a second shot will yield a better result, repeats, “Where?”

So, for your viewing pleasure, I present: maps.

Ukhta map 1
Yes, I will be a mere three degrees south of the Arctic Circle.

Map #1 means I will be cold, most of the time. Another helpful visual reference from this very useful weather website shows the temperature trends in the area:

Note the averages band across the top. I’ll move from frigid to freezing to cold to cool and then back again: while the weather will make it into comfortable and even warm, I’ll still spend the majority of my time below 65 F.

You could compare this to South Bend, where I spent my last four years:

South Bend
Of course, I would protest that South Bend hangs out in warm/hot more often than this gives it credit for.

Also, being only three degrees below the Arctic Circle probably won’t be very helpful for my suntan, cold or not, because for a good portion of the year I will be getting fairly little sunlight, and not always direct sunlight even when it is technically day.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 3.21.25 PM
So, from the end of November through mid-January, “day” will only consist of solar twilight. Conversely, I won’t see real darkness from the end of May through mid-July.

Of course, three degrees below the Arctic Circle also means I should see northern lights. According to the Moscow Times, Ukhta has been nicknamed “The Northern Pearl” because of its northern lights.


Ukhta map 2
As you can see, I will not be in the most densely populated section of the country.

Map #2 (showing population density) means that Ukhta is not only small but also surrounded by cities that are equally small. They are probably also very spread out. This has been confirmed by Google Maps.


Ukhta map 3
…Nor will I be in the warmest. The mean annual temperature in this band is between -4 and -2 degrees Celsius, or 25 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Map #3 agrees with Map #1, namely, that I will be cold. But as a side note, it also contradicts the American assumption that North = Cold, unequivocally. While Ukhta is very far north and is very cold, it is not as cold as other, even more southerly parts of Eastern Russia.


Ukhta map 4
I will also be smack dab in the middle of taiga, or boreal forest. The tundra won’t be too far off, either. (Please forgive the political outdated-ness of this map.)

Map #4 plops me in the middle of the world’s largest stretch of boreal forest (a.k.a. taiga). I’m also a short drive (okay, 3 hours, but in the North that’s nothing) from Europe’s largest national park, which is mostly taiga and part tundra. If I step out of the city limits, I will chance encountering a variety of animal life, including but not limited to squirrels, lynxes, bears, and reindeer.

Maps sources: here, here, here, and google.


3 thoughts on “ukhta: the environs

  1. This reminds me of how I felt when I found out 11 years ago that I would be headed to central Minnesota as a high school exchange student. It turned out to be the most consequential year of my life to date. Best of luck!


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