You can get frostbite in just 30 seconds.

Mount Washington winter New Hampshire photo

Photo by randihausken (CC)

(Travel and Leisure) If you think it’s cold where you live today, just be glad you’re not at the summit of Mount Washington.

Temperatures atop the New Hampshire mountain, which is known for its bitterly cold temperatures and fierce winds, were forecast to sink below -20 degrees Friday, dropping to somewhere between -70 and -80 degrees after accounting for windchill.

Overnight, air temperature is set to hit -40 degrees, with 100-miles-per-hour winds causing windchill to hit -100 degrees.

But despite the punishing temperatures, at least three hearty weather observers will be stationed at the Mount Washington Observatory, recording information about air temperature, wind speed, visibility and cloud cover at the summit every hour — manually, since extreme cold destroys most automatic equipment.

Adam Gill, a weather observer and IT specialist at the observatory, told Travel + Leisure what it’s like to work in one of the coldest places on earth.

When temperatures creep toward -80, Gill says frostbite is an almost immediate concern. Exposed skin can start to get frostbite in as little as 30 seconds, he says, with permanent damage possible after just a couple minutes.

And if you step outside with exposed skin, Gill says, you’ll know it immediately. “Your skin starts to burn, kind of like if you’re holding your hand too close to a hot fire,” he says. “When you first step outside, to breathe is more difficult, because the air is cold and dry. It’s kind of like walking outside and walking into super cold water…”

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