One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people moving to Alaska is “How cold does it get up there?” Well, this is a difficult question to answer, considering the size of Alaska.  We are the largest state in the US, and the temperature variation is enormous. The temperature in Barrow is much different than it is in Juneau. Our weather is as varied as our terrain, but has one constant: it changes frequently, often within the same day.

Visitors usually find Alaska is not as cold as they imagine, and summer weather can be quite warm. The record cold temperature was recorded at Prospect Creek (in northern Alaska) in 1971, and was -79.8 degrees F. The record high temperature for the state was at Fort Yukon in 1915, where it reached 100 degrees F in June.

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, with nearly 280,000 people (about half the population of Alaska). Since this is where most people are relocating, I will address the weather here. Also, the temperatures I give are in F, not C.

Anchorage, AK

Sorry! No actual weather data available!

The “official” Anchorage weather is taken at the Anchorage International Airport, which is less extreme than the weather on the East or South side of town. The airport is located on the inlet, causing the temperature to be milder. In other parts of town, the temperature may fluctuate + or – 5 degrees. This is why I have provided 2 temperature magnets for Anchorage, one from the airport for the official weather, and the other from Merrill Field, which is a more mid-town location. I have also provided a temperature magnet for Fairbanks, which is the 2nd largest city in Alaska. Fairbanks is located in the interior (approximately 360 miles North of Anchorage), and the temperature is more extreme there, ranging from the high 90’s in the summer to the minus 60’s in the winter.

Anchorage weather is fairly mild, with a high in the 70’s in the summer (the last few summers we’ve had a few sunny days over 80 in Anchorage), and dipping into the minus 20’s in the winter. The average winter temperature stays in the teens to 20’s, with a warm spell happening most Decembers where the temperature rises into the 40’s. We have a cold snap in January or February where the temperatures can nose dive to –25, but this usually doesn’t last more than a week.

Fairbanks, AK

Sorry! No actual weather data available!

Our winters aren’t nearly as harsh as places like New York, Chicago, Minnesota, and other cities in the Lower 48. The only real difference is the daylight issue. We have 20 hours of daylight in the summer, but in the winter it drops to about 5 hours. Farther north, the temperatures are quite a bit lower in the winter and the amount of winter daylight decreases. North of the Arctic Circle there are days (up to 3 months!) when the sun doesn’t come up at all.

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