As temperatures dropped Wednesday, new records were set in Alaska.

Most of the Interior dropped to 50 to 60 below zero, including McGrath, which saw some of the coldest temperatures in five years. The official thermometer dropped to 53 degrees below zero, cold enough to cancel school.

The principal of the school said 50 below is the cutoff for when they have to close school for everyone’s safety and because some of their equipment can start to fail at that point.

With the day off from school, JT and Joshua Vanderpool took the opportunity to do a little science. They threw cups of hot colored water into the frigid cold air, instantly turning it to ice.

Their mom says they’re used to the cold weather, but it’s been awhile.

“This is the first time it’s been closed due to cold temperatures that I can remember for the last few years at least,” said Jennifer Vanderpool from McGrath.

She said they’ve become acclimated to the warmer weather the last few years, but she remembers it being colder when she was growing up.

“I grew up here. When I was a kid, it’d be 60 degrees below zero and then you would start to second guess if whether you would go out and do much during the day,” Jennifer Vanderpool recalled. “But 40 below, 50 below — that was the norm it would hit.”

While this was the coldest temperature McGrath has seen in about five years, it’s only be colder two other times in the past 11 years.

Some offices chose to close or limit their hours Wednesday, but Jennifer Vanderpool, who runs the local hotel, said it was open, as were the gas station and store.

KTVA 11’s Melissa Frey can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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