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Mount Shishaldin, Unimak Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, United States. Author Michael Theberge, NOAA Photo Library. No Copyright
Mount Shishaldin, Unimak Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, United States. Author Michael Theberge, NOAA Photo Library

Alaska climate: when to go to Alaska

The climate of Alaska is of the sub-polar or polar type with cold, snowy, long and dark winters and short and relatively mild summers. The climate differs depending on the latitude, altitude, on the arrangement of the mountains and the distance from the ocean.

In Alaska we can identify four main types of climate: the oceanic climate, the sub-polar oceanic climate that characterizes the south, the sub-polar interior climate and the polar climate of the north of the country.

The southern regions of Alaska, especially those of the so-called Panhandle, that is, the long and narrow coastal strip along the Pacific Ocean, where there is also the capital Juneau, have a oceanic of high latitude climate type, characterized by abundant rains all year and temperatures mitigated by the presence of the ocean. Precipitation is more abundant in the autumn months, while decreases in the spring months. Precipitation tend to decrease progressing northward on average are recorded variable values between 3.900 mm in Ketchikan, 2.200 mm in Sitka, 1.500 mm in Juneau and 660 mm in Skagway.

Climate similar to that of the Panhandle is also the one of the Aleutian Islands, where the rains are on average around 1.500/2.000 mm a year, well distributed throughout the year, but with a reduction in the months between June and August. The temperatures are relatively mild and the fog is a constant of the islands climate.

Mount McKinley-Denali, Alaska, United States. Author Sbork. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

Mount McKinley-Denali, Alaska, United States. Author Sbork

In the rest of southern Alaska the climate becomes subpolar oceanic, in this area, which also includes Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, the rains decreased significantly as well as the temperatures, winters are snowy and long, summers are short. The average annual rainfall is reduced at around 400 mm, the wettest months are between July and October. The average minimum temperatures remain below freezing from October to April, while the average maximum is below freezing from November to February. The west coast looking out on the Bering Sea also has a sub-polar oceanic climate, but here due to the very northern latitude temperatures decrease significantly.

The interior regions of Alaska have a sub-polar climate with long, extremely cold and snowy winters, with average minimum temperatures, which in the colder months arrive almost at -30 ° C, while the average maximum temperatures in summer exceed 20 ° C. The rains are scarce, on average, this area of Alaska has between 200 mm and 300 mm of precipitation a year, the relatively wettest months are the summer ones.

In the far north of Alaska the climate becomes the typical polar climate, here winters are extremely cold, long, dark, and the summers are very short. The temperatures for most of the year are below zero with average minimum temperature values ranging between -29 ° C in the winter months and 2 ° C in the summer months. The average maximum temperatures vary between -22 ° C in winter and 8 ° C in July. Rainfall is at the level of desert areas, this area of Alaska has in fact only about 100 mm of precipitation per year, that result in about 1 meter of snow a year. The rainiest months are the summer months, between July and September.

WHEN TO GO TO ALASKA

The best time for a trip to Alaska are the mildest months of summer, between May and September, when the days are not too cold, and Alaska have long periods of light. During the summer months expect to find mosquitoes whenever you will find outdoor and temperatures will be above zero. The best time to see the bears in Alaska is between July and September.

 ALASKA NORTHERN LIGHTS

To see the Northern Lights in Alaska is preferable to be in a place above 60 ° N, in an area away from lights, and without the full moon. Auroras are more easily visible in early morning or in the late evening. The best time is around the equinoxes, that is, around the middle of March or mid-September, but the most intense auroras occur during the winter months between December and March, when the nights are long and dark.

ALASKA MIDNIGHT SUN AND POLAR NIGHT

Beyond the Arctic Circle you can see the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun. In the town of Barrow, the northernmost city of Alaska, the sun never sets for 84 days between May 10 and August 2. In winter, between November 18 and January 23, it has rather the opposite phenomenon, that of the Polar Night, when the sun never rises.

ALASKA CLIMATIC TABLES

JUNEAU (17 meters)
Month Average low (°C) Average high (°C) Rain (mm) Rainy days
January -4,6 0,4 135 20,6
February -3,9 1,8 104 16,6
March -2,2 4,2 96 18,9
April 0,7 9,1 74 17,0
May 4,8 13,7 86 16,3
June 8,3 16,8 82 15,8
July 10,0 17,7 116 17,7
August 9,4 17,1 145 19,1
September 6,9 13,2 219 22,4
October 3,2 8,3 219 23,9
November -1,6 3,2 152 20,9
December -3,6 1,2 148 20,6
YEAR  2,3  8,9 1581 229,8

ANCHORAGE (31 meters)
Month Average low (°C) Average high (°C) Rain (mm) Rainy days
January -11,6 -4,9 18 8,2
February -10,1 -3,0 18 7,1
March -7,1 1,1 15 5,9
April -1,6 6,9 12 5,0
May 4,2 13,3 18 7,3
June 8,7 17,1 24 8,5
July 11,2 18,6 46 12,0
August 10,0 17,5 82 14,6
September 5,6 12,8 76 14,8
October -1,6 4,7 51 11,9
November -8,6 -2,3 29 9,4
December -10,4 -4,0 28 10,5
YEAR  -0,9  6,5 421 115,2

FAIRBANKS (136 meters)
Month Average low (°C) Average high (°C) Rain (mm) Rainy days
January -27,2 -17,2 15 8,5
February -24,8 -12,2 11 6,6
March -19,2 -3,7 6 4,8
April -6,3 6,9 8 3,6
May 3,2 16,1 15 7,1
June 9,6 22,0 35 10,9
July 11,3 22,6 55 12,9
August 8,0 18,8 48 13,3
September 1,7 12,6 28 10,4
October -8,6 -0,1 21 11,2
November -20,9 -11,7 17 13,3
December -24,9 -15,1 16 9,0
YEAR  -8,2  3,3 274 108,6

BARROW (3 meters)
Month Average low (°C) Average high (°C) Rain (mm) Rainy days
January -28,6 -21,8 3
February -29,1 -22,0 3
March -28,4 -21,1 2
April -20,5 -13,1 4
May -8,6 -3,4 4
June -0,7 4,7 7
July 1,6 8,3 25
August 1,2 6,6 26
September -1,9 2,1 18
October -10,8 -5,7 10
November -20,4 -14,3 5
December -25,4 -18,8 3
YEAR  -14,3  -8,2 113

ALASKA SEA WATER TEMPERATURE

YAKUTAT
Month Temperature of the sea water °C
January 6
February 5
March 5
April 6
May 8
June 11
July 13
August 14
September 12
October 10
November 8
December 6
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