What is the Climate Like in Alaska?
The state of Alaska is not known for its tropical weather, and it tends to get very cold throughout the year. However, this enormous frontier is more than 663,000 miles in area and its topography is equally impressive. Those who want to know more about the temperatures of the many regions in the state should consider the following facts.
A Pleasant Capital
While Anchorage may be the most densely populated city, the capital of Alaska is Juneau. This city on the sea has some serious small-town vibes to it as well as a subpolar climate. This means the whole southeastern panhandle enjoys some of the mildest temperatures in Alaska. In fact, most days during the winter will experience a temperature above freezing, allowing for certain parts of the state to form temperature rainforests. Precipitation will be highest in autumn and lowest in late spring and early summer.
Habitable South Central
Moving away from the east into the center of the state, residents will find reasonable temperatures, even if they're not quite as warm as those in Juneau. This is the region where travelers will find Anchorage, the city with the most everyday amenities in all of Alaska. The climate here is considered subarctic, resulting in plenty of snow and shorter summers. There's also plenty of strong, chilly winds during the winter, which can make the days feel that much colder.
A Volatile Inside
The interior of Alaska is also subarctic, but the temperatures throughout the year are more extreme than the south-central part of the state. Imagine going from -60° F below to 90° F in just a few months, and one will have an idea of what it's like to live in this part of the state. Cities like Fairbanks will get less precipitation during the year, with the majority of rainfall during the summer months. Those who live here will also need to watch for ice fogs from November to March. This occurs when ice crystals form in the air and create hazardous outdoor conditions for both drivers and walkers.
Northern Alaska is arctic weather, and likely what most people picture when they think of the state.
- The winters are long and the summers are short and cool
- The sun will not rise for weeks at a time during the winter months
- The sun will shine for 24 hours a day for weeks at a time during the summer months
- Snow may fall at any time of the year
- This is the coldest region in the state
An Unpredictable West Side
Those who head to the West will find both the Bering Sea and a largely subarctic climate. Even though this region edges to the North, the temperatures in this part of the state are not nearly as cold. However, what people will find is plenty of variation. Some parts may maintain comfortable temperatures while others dip low. Other parts of the West may get 100 inches of precipitation while relatively nearby areas will get less than 10.
Exploring Alaska can be an exercise in understanding a variety of climates, which makes sense given the vastness and expanse of the area. Regardless of a person's preferred climate, there's likely an area that will match their expectations. Plus, there are plenty of other areas to head to when everyone needs a break.