Alaska Weather Climate Seasons Temperatures Alaska

Alaska's Weather Climate

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The Boy Scouts motto couldn’t be more applicable when it comes to Alaska weather: be prepared. Whether you arrive in Alaska in a dark and icy January or a scorching hot June, you could get weeks of unending rain or blazing sunshine either way.

Subject to harsh Siberian conditions, Alaska acts as a buffer for weather blustering in from the Arctic Circle towards the United States. The climate can be severe and unpredictable, with recorded extremes of 100°F (38°C) highs and 80°F ( 62°C) lows. Thankfully Alaskans are a pretty hardy bunch, equipped for anything the weather gods may deign to throw at them.

An enormous land mass of 656,424 square miles means Alaska is divided into several distinct microclimates. The state’s mountains, large open plains and miles of coastline divide Alaska weather into several distinct regions.

Extreme temperatures

Extreme temperatures are found inland, with icy winters and searing summer heat. Temperatures in south central Alaska – the region encompassing Anchorage and Prince William Sound – are relatively mild for the state. The southeast of the state receives more rain than the south central region, but also more snow and more clear days. Northern Alaska’s reputation for unending chilly days and nights isn’t completely warranted – temperatures can rise above 70°F several times during a summer in the Arctic Circle.

While the state is celebrated for its icy winter weather, Alaska summers are the busiest time of the year for its burgeoning tourism industry. Melted ice and snow mean swollen rivers, lush forests and lots of fish. Late May through early September is generally considered the best time of year for wildlife viewing in Alaska.

The summer solstice in June is the longest day of the year. Barrow, Alaska’s northernmost Arctic town, basks in 24 hour sunlight over this period, while the rest of the state receives a mere few hours of darkness each day. But the opposite also applies. Winter shrouds those parts of Alaska above the Arctic Circle in 24 hour darkness during December and January. The rest of the state basks in a couple of hours of pale sunshine daily during these winter months.

Activities for each season

The sun is up longer from February through March, and a lot of Alaskan winter tourist activity hits its stride around this time.

The crux of a successful, happy vacation in Alaska lies in deciding what you would like from the weather, and adjusting when you take your holiday occasionally. Winter will provide you with the ultimate in snowy pastimes – dog sledding, skiing, and the natural phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. Costs may be significantly cheaper, but a lot of tourist attractions in and around the ocean will be closed for the season.

June to August are the boom months for tourism due to lots of long, warm days during this summer period. A summer vacation will bypass the snow and give you the idyllic environment for ocean cruises, wildlife watching and fishing trips.

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