Think you've had a bad winter? So did we... That is until we saw these photos of winters around the globe. From mother nature's chilly art to icy phenomenons, we guarantee just glancing at these photos will give you the chills. So grab a heavy blanket, fix yourself a hot chocolate, and keep scrolling to see what real cold looks like.
In particularly cold northern climates, ‘but it’s snowing…’ is rarely accepted as a valid excuse to miss work or school. But even places like Newfoundland have exceptionally snowy days that keep residents from getting out the door, literally. Let’s just hope these poor snowed-in folks are well stocked with plenty of food and necessities. Who knows just how densely packed this avalanche is; it might take quite a bit of digging before they can see the outside world again.
On the bright side, packed snow can be quite insulating (hello, igloos), so technically, the people who live here don’t even have to shut the door to keep cold air out. But good luck hearing a visitor knock.
Cold But Curvy
Children, please cover your eyes and continue to scroll down. While some accidental ice sculptures might take on a humorous shape or geometrically beautiful design, this is one of the few that qualifies as NSFW. It looks like what you would find at the entrance to Hugh Hefner’s Aspen getaway. That, or it could be part of the opening title sequence for a James Bond movie set in the Arctic.
While some of you might pay special attention to this ice woman’s shapely body, others might be alarmed by the dangerous situation she’s found herself in. The poor thing's holding on for dear life!
Is This How Firefighters Keep Cool?
Firefighters know that their brave line of work comes with some serious risks. They might faint due to heat exhaustion; they can suffer from third-degree burns; sustain lung damage from smoke inhalation, or become injured from falling structures. But the chances of dying from hypothermia are probably quite low on the long list of a firefighter’s job hazards, or so this firefighter thought before the day this photo was taken.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for his frozen uniform: Just run back into the burning building, wait around for a few seconds, and voila! That layer of ice will melt right off!
Lunch With a Ghost
This classic trick is well known to families in cold northern climates worldwide and is a great way to entertain kids before a spaghetti dinner. After boiling the noodles and bringing the plate outside, the remaining water freezes, forming a noodle tower capable of keeping the fork suspended in mid-air. It’s also a great chance to teach children about the basic states of matter, in this case, how changes in heat allow liquids to convert into solids and back again.
While this meal may have made for a great photo, it doesn’t look particularly tasty. Plain pasta without sauce? Now, where’s the fun in that?
A Fearless Feline
The scientific consensus is that modern house cats evolved from the African wildcat. But zoologists should take a look at this pictured puffball to determine if it has some Siberian tiger genes somewhere in its ancestry. The cold temperatures don’t seem to bother it one bit, and it’s also unconcerned by the icicles, which appear to reach out to pet the adorable fluff muffin. But, alas, the kitty doesn’t care.
Strangely curved icicle sheets and the professional cat model aside, it’s the picturesque red barn that really completes the shot. Surely it gets quite drafty in there.
They Accidentally Built an Indoor Ice Skating Rink
Flooded basements are certainly no picnic at any time of year, but flooding in winter can have particularly problematic results. Perhaps even more frightening than the mess this will cause once it melts is the water bill the homeowners will have to pay. But maybe they can recoup the cost by advertising their basement as a temporary ice rink. That, or they can just convert the basement into a swimming pool once summer arrives.
Remember, on those extra cold days, make sure at least one of your sinks is kept on a slow drip so that water continually moves through the pipes. Otherwise, the water might freeze, burst, and potentially cause a catastrophe like this one.
Facial Hair Freeze
Experienced barbers generally recommend that men wash their beards with warm water before shaving, as warmer hairs are more relaxed and easier to shave off. But this icy beard mess might require a more thoughtful approach to grooming. What would your first step be here? Blowdryer? Immersive bath? Maybe it’s enough to simply stand in any heated room and let what was obviously a very tough day melt away.
It’s amazing that the poor guy can even manage to lift his head and look into the camera. That must be some very heavy facial hair!
This Could Get Dangerous
Winter weather can cause complete chaos when it comes to road safety. Drivers are already dealing with icy roads and poor tire traction, so covering up traffic lights with snow only adds to the danger of navigating an intersection. And given that traffic lights have now been in use for over 150 years, it’s pretty surprising that these circular light enclosures don’t have holes at the bottom to let accumulated snow or water simply fall out.
What makes this situation even more confusing is that this photo was snapped in Lake Tahoe, of all places, where snow isn’t exactly uncommon. Perhaps they should have anticipated this.
The Winter Disappearing Act
This creative but rather creepy college tradition involves taking wet children’s clothing and placing them in extremely cold weather so that they freeze into the shapes of mysteriously missing children. The end result is like some kind of a scene from a Stephen King novel. ‘In a quiet Maine town, one winter day, the children were playing outside and suddenly disappeared, leaving only their empty coats and horrified parents behind.’
And if it looks this creepy in the daylight, we can't even imagine walking around at night and just seeing these mysterious shadows lining the sidewalks.
This dreamlike image could pass as either a winter scene from one of the Oz books, or perhaps it could be mistaken for a shark-infested lagoon. In actuality, it’s the surprising result of Lake Michigan freezing. The ice was then pushed up as waters warmed beneath the frozen surface, causing it to break into these spectacular shards. Beautiful as it might be, it’s unlikely to attract a great deal of northward migration to the likes of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin.
You might be wondering: ‘Just how cold did temps have to dip for this to happen?’ The answer: A brisk -23°F. So definitely bring your parka if you'd like to admire this winter landscape in person.
Bye, Bye Birdie
Several bird species migrate north in the spring and south in the autumn in search of more comfortable weather. But this one appears to have been somewhat distracted, to the point that it forgot to take flight entirely before the brutally cold weather set in. Fortunately, you can rest assured and stop squinting your eyes. There’s no actual frozen bird here; it’s just a fluke of (very, very cold) nature.
The real question is, what kind of bird is this shaped like? Depending on your perspective, it could pass as a mockingbird or a hummingbird.
Canucks joke endlessly about how cold Canada gets in the wintertime, and after seeing this picture, it’s abundantly clear why Canada is often referred to as the ‘Great White North.’ The nickname is justified for anyone who has survived a winter in British Columbia. But maybe the bitter winter cold is worthwhile after all? It’s not everywhere that a waterfall creates an ice cone, particularly one that collapses inward to such spectacular effect.
While most tourists come to see the pictured Helmcken Falls in the summer, brave souls would be well rewarded for bearing the lingering March cold to check out something like this in person. It's what we like to call a snocano - a volcano of snow!
Too Heavy a Burden
Everyone has moments when they feel like they could fall apart from bearing too much stress. The next time you have one of those days, don’t beat yourself up for being, shall we say, weak wooded. Instead, take comfort in the fact that you’re at least more resilient than this poor Bradford pear tree, which collapsed—or rather, split into four—from the weight of a little snow. Other trees look at this winter misfit and just let out a long, deep sigh.
Maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye. Did lightning strike it? If that’s the case, its complete collapse is perhaps slightly more excusable.
Just Your Everyday Ice Dome
Sometimes winter can be so gloomy and cold that it feels like the sky is simply made of ice. Well, imagine what the birds of this aviary (a large enclosed birdcage) thought when they woke up one cold morning, flew off the branch they’d slept on and found that their enclosure net had completely frozen over. Not exactly an uplifting start to a day, whether you live on land or in the sky.
Hopefully, the aviary staff gave a little warning before they shook the net. Otherwise, it seems like some unaware birds might have ended up getting seriously hurt.
‘Welcome’ to Our Alarmingly Cold Home
Though this could easily be mistaken for frosted gingerbread, it’s probably best not to serve it to guests with tea. It’s actually a welcome mat that was first frozen by brutally cold temperatures and then accidentally snapped in two by its unlucky owner. But look on the bright side: Though the welcome mat should be moved indoors, the upside of living in this freezing place is that you do not need an indoor freezer. Just fill your ice cube trays with water and leave them out overnight.
Needless to say, any place this cold is decidedly unwelcoming. Let’s just hope the residents here are at least quick to answer the door when they have guests.
Not a Big Fan of Winter
There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a fan sitting in your living room as you shiver through a harsh winter. And hey, everyone runs out of closet space at one time or another, right? So it might make sense that the owner of this fan thought to leave it outside until the return of summer. But why on earth was it turned on during a spell of freezing rain?
Word of advice: Don’t start the fan up again until the ice has completely melted. Flying ice shards could potentially be quite dangerous.
Freeze to Life
While this may have resulted from sudden and unexpected freezing rain, it might also have been an intentional choice by whoever is responsible for the upkeep of this beautiful flowerbed. When experienced gardeners anticipate particularly cold weather, they sometimes elect to turn on a sprinkling system so that their plants are encased in frozen water, which can actually insulate the plant against threatening cold. Counterintuitive though it may sound, it protects beauties like this one.
Aside from being a smart gardening and landscaping choice, watering plants before a freeze makes for incredible photos. Every nursery’s social media manager should take note!
When the Water Level Lowers
It’s unclear just how this triangular sheet of ice ended up floating in the air (or technically, wrapped around a tree) while the rest of it apparently melted away underneath. But why look a gift horse in the mouth? This could make for a fantastic ice skating scene using a bunch of miniature figurines (Legos, Playmobil, etc.). Making sets of tiny ice skates would be quite a time investment, but, after all, sometimes you have to suffer for art.
Furthermore, maybe this ice sheet could be highly functional. After all, who hasn’t run out of shelf space at some point?
Stained Glass Windows on a Budget
Why can’t every window look like this on particularly cold nights? Though replicating this as an intentional frosted glass design would be quite an investment, it might be worth the effort. The most obvious clientele would be religious institutions wishing to give their place of worship a nice little upgrade. The tree-shaped forms could also be quite suitable for a landscaping supply store or even the windows for an environmentalist nonprofit’s offices.
How unfortunate that this unintentional design of nature likely can’t be maintained for very long unless temperatures in this location stay consistent for long periods.
Siberia Is No Joke
Many travelers have fantasized about a romantic ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway. But those who prefer to avoid dramatically cold temperatures might be wise to get off the train before its last stop, the city of Vladivostock (commonly referred to as ‘the end of the world’). Freezing rain is not an uncommon phenomenon in the Russian Far East, and though a Siberian winter might make for a pleasant fantasy, the everyday reality can be far from pleasant.
What exactly do these poor drivers do in this scenario? Build a giant bonfire next to their cars? Or should they just accept the fact that they’ll probably be working remotely for a while?
Reaching for the River
Different people might see different things when looking at natural ice sculptures, particularly if they stare at the beautiful icicles dangling from driftwood here. Some of the many possible interpretations of these might include the shins of a bunch of skeletons; birds’ legs with rather plump feet; hands stretching out to touch the water; toilet brushes with particularly long handles; bead curtains dangling down from a door; or feather dusters you could use to clean your house.
And for mature audiences only: These could also pass for, shall we say, toys that you might find in a shop intended for adults.
Icy Inkblot Test
Different people see different things when staring at clouds, inkblots, or latte foam. Now ice skating surfaces can apparently be added to this list of interpretive imagery. When staring at this particular frozen pool of water, some might see a gathering of birds, while others might see smoke, while others might see ghostly apparitions. One thing’s impossible to ignore: This skater is braving what appears to be a very cold winter.
Kudos to the photographer for getting such a great shot. But is it really safe for them to be standing there? This photo has a ‘seconds later they fell through the ice’ feel.
That Used to Be Boiling Water
If you throw cold water into the air on an extremely cold day, it won’t necessarily freeze. But toss boiling water into the air in sub-zero temperatures, with air temps less than -14° Fahrenheit/-26° Celsius to be exact, and you’re in for quite an entertaining (though a bit dangerous) surprise. The water technically doesn’t convert to snow, but it does become a cloud of vapor that looks quite a bit like snow.
Just remember to carefully mind where and how you toss the boiling water. You definitely don’t want to throw it into wind blowing in your direction.
This type of ice, called rime ice, forms in special weather conditions, in which drops of water freeze and cling to surfaces on days that are both foggy and, obviously, quite cold. While this rime-coated house is beautiful (if not a bit eerie), surviving this kind of scenario must be a nightmare. Really, there’s no rime or reason as to why someone would choose to live there during a winter like this.
The photo was apparently taken in Canada. Now, is this the kind of imagery that would increase Canadian tourism, or make the average sane person stay far away, at least between the months of November to March?
Now, imagine the camera had zoomed in a little bit here so that the rearview mirror entirely was out of frame. Honestly, would you have known this was a car windshield? Without any context it almost looks like it could be a flurry of snow covered hills towering above a dark lake in some frozen northern latitude. That, or it could potentially pass as a very impressive winter landscape painting.
Knowing that it is indeed a car windshield, you really have to pity the poor driver. This is one of those tough jobs where they might have to go mix a vinegar (or rubbing alcohol) and water cocktail to soften up the ice before they can actually see anything.
Many might choose to visit Finland during the summer, hoping to take advantage of mild weather and midnight sun. But it’s hard to turn away from beautiful winterscapes like this, in which a forest was transformed into stretches of snowmen. And though winter days might be frustratingly short in the northern latitudes, you can’t beat a multicolored winter sunset, with shades of pink and purple coating the world like cotton candy.
Peaceful though this stretch of trees may appear from this angle, they might also be quite disorienting to walk through. Hopefully the lone soul pictured here in blue knows their way out of the maze.
Your Royal Iceness
Crowns have been used for millennia as head coverings for royalty, and are traditionally quite labor intensive. It takes a significant amount of time and manpower to source a traditional crown’s rare materials, smelt and shape its gold, and cut and polish its gemstones. What a shame that royal jewelers spent hours and hours crafting their headpieces; they apparently could have saved an enormous amount of time and money by simply placing a rain bucket outside in the winter.
Hopefully the lucky photographer found a way to remove this crown from the bucket and promptly transferred it to a freezer. It could be such a dazzling accessory to show off to guests!
This photo was taken in beautiful Småland, a region of southern Sweden, known for reaching warm temperatures compared to neighboring provinces (it holds the record temp for all of Scandinavia). That said, southern Sweden is still relatively far north by global standards—with Småland situated around the same latitude as Inverness in Scotland or Alaska’s Kodiak Island. And, as you can clearly see from this photo, ‘warm’ is always a relative term.
Looking for a quaint winter getaway? Beautiful Småland landscapes like this one can be reached with ease, being less than a 90-minute drive from the international airport in Gothenburg.
You Can’t Avoid Karma
The endless search for parking is a well known frustration for all drivers. And when freezing rain is forecasted, it’s certainly a good idea to find a covered parking spot at all costs. Unless, of course, the only covered parking spot is: 1. Striped, and therefore technically unavailable for parking, or 2. Located directly underneath a leaky pipe. This unwise driver might ultimately have had less of a mess on their hands if they had followed the rules and simply parked outside.
Lesson learned: The next time you look with longing at a striped non-parking spot, remember that it might very well be striped for a reason. Sometimes it pays off to follow the rules.
Beautiful sights like these make even the most unbearably low winter temps worthwhile. And while it doesn’t exactly look like a painting, it could certainly pass for an intricate wallpaper, upholstery design, or even lacework. Hopefully the car’s lucky owner was smart enough to steal Mother Nature’s pattern, take full credit, and file a copyright claim. Does your car do this? If not, you might consider trading it in for a more creative model.
Just how long did this driver debate whether or not to start the engine, thereby heating it up and destroying this unintentional masterpiece? Shame that sometimes people have to choose between going about their day and preserving accidental beauties like this.
The Road Less Traveled
Whether you have four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or an actual snowmobile, there are some days when it’s a good idea to just stay home entirely and wait for better conditions before resuming your usual commute. The truth is, even walking across this road looks highly risky. The only safe means of negotiating conditions like this might be to literally put on your ice skates, wear padded clothing, and glide across.
This image manages to accomplish something that’s very rare for a still photo: suspense. Though the road is empty now, what happens if and when an unfortunate car comes around that corner?
Stay Away From My Tires
Driving in freezing rain is exceptionally dangerous, as the precipitation immediately freezes when it hits a surface, which makes road conditions quite hazardous. But many drivers would probably ignore the danger entirely if they could be guaranteed a spiky creation like this one. Batman and James Bond invested time, money, and research into creating slashing rims like these; it’s a shame no one told them that they could have just driven around Wisconsin in December.
And what exactly does it look like anyway? A frozen sun? A sunflower? A crown for a snow king? A deep-sea creature?
Colorful Christmas Cake
While once served at almost every Christmas party, the reputation of fruitcake has taken a beating over time, and the dry dessert is now frequently the object of insult. But if this photo goes viral, things might be looking up again for baked Christmas goods of all varieties. Take one look at this snow-covered party bush and it might be hard to resist a sudden craving for holiday cupcakes, muffins, and any other colorful baked treat.
Neighborhoods with particularly outstanding Christmas light displays are sometimes the site of guided tours. If the rest of this house is half as charming as this glowing hedge, a pack of curious onlookers would surely show up.
While some drivers have walked out to their cars to unexpectedly find beautiful winter designs on their windshields, other creative commuters have claimed to lend something of a helping hand to Jack Frost. Cleaning the glass the night before an expected frost might lay the groundwork for pretty patterns, as remaining swirls of cleaning fluid could trap the frost. Seems like a lot of work to get the desired result, particularly in shiver-inducing weather.
Of course, intentionally laying the groundwork for a frost design also leads to the inconvenience of not being able to see through your windshield the next day. But at least your Instagram will be abuzz.
Though festive wreaths can be made from relatively common and easily-found materials—like leaves, branches, and flowers—properly assembling them does take some skill and patience. Those who have neither the time nor desire to make them at home might pay between $20–$40 for a holiday wreath, but the man pictured here apparently found a free solution, when water and leaves situated in his fire pit cover froze into an unexpected wreath.
This amusing surprise is definitely deserving of a photo, but what about this poor guy’s hands? A word to the wise: Wear gloves when gripping a frozen ring of ice.
Sharp to the Touch
Barbed wire was invented in Ohio in 1867, and immediately became a popular method for fencing domesticated animals in and keeping predatory animals away. Though it’s a reasonably affordable material and relatively easy to construct, barbed wire is nonetheless not quite as easy a ranching solution as simply setting up regular wire fencing and then waiting for a particularly cold night to naturally barb it with sharp pricks of ice.
This photo appears to capture yet another example of rime ice, in which water droplets in slow-moving fog are suddenly frozen in place.
Every Grill Should Look Like This
Most grills are designed with a simple shiny black or silver matte finish. But manufacturers should maybe take a look at the eye-catching pattern that was left on this grill following some particularly frosty weather. Maybe this could serve as inspiration for the next Traeger design? A designed grill might alienate some super-macho cooks, but on the other hand it could attract more creative types to the joys of cooking outdoors (even in wintry weather).
Then again, this flowing leaf-like pattern might not be the most appropriate for mealtime. Maybe next time Jack Frost can surprise the griller with an appetizing pattern of steaks, salmon, and asparagus?
Hopefully This Bus Is Insulated Well
For those who are less familiar with the Celsius temperature scale, -55°C is equivalent to a rather chilly -67°F. And believe it or not, that’s not even the record low temperature for Russia. That sort-of honor belongs to the rural locality of Oymyakon in the Sakha Republic, which reached an all-time low of -90°F on February 6, 1933. Surprisingly enough, Oymyakon remains inhabited to this day. Respect to its brave residents!
The photographer did reveal that this temperature reading was simply a software error; but given Russia’s reputation for cold weather, it could very well have been accurate.
Walk at Your Own Risk
The dreaded ‘black ice’ seen here should really be called ‘clear ice.’ The ice itself is not black; it’s transparent, which makes it all the more dangerous for people who try to walk across it unaware. The best way to navigate across this hazardous patch is probably to attach crampons (special grips) to the sole of a regular shoe. Or those who are particularly graceful might choose to lace up their ice skates and glide across to safety.
The only comforting aspect of this photo is that it was taken in Finland, a nation known for its competence in winter sports. While black ice may be intimidating to most, locals were probably well prepared for this inconvenience.
Snowy but Serene
While it may not be everyone’s ideal spot to settle down in (this photo was taken in -40° cold), living in Yakutsk, Russia, officially known as ‘the coldest city on earth’, does have its benefits. Those who suffer through the city’s winter can look forward to summers with dramatically different weather, in which temperatures have historically reached more than 100°F. When that happens residents can cool off with a boat ride on the Lena River, which traverses Eastern Russia.
-40° is the one temperature recording that is the same in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. So if it dips that low where you live, at least you don’t have to do any calculations to explain how cold it is to friends living in a country that uses the other temperature scale.