Why Is Alaska So Cold?

Q. Why is Alaska so cold? -Gregory

A. Well, I guess probably because of our location – you know, east of the sun and west of the moon! At least that is how I felt about our location the first several years in Alaska in the early 70′s. Seemed like we were so very far from everything familiar, even though I loved Alaska from Day One!

I’m sure the scientific explanation is the tilt of planet earth, as we wobble our way around the sun. Did you know we ‘wobble’? It is the angle of the sun’s rays which determine climate, or, in other words, hot and cold. We are in the northern latitudes and those are the colder areas.

The variations of cold within the state are determined also by the position of the different mountain ranges. For instance, the extreme cold of the arctic is kept, somewhat, up there by the Brooks Range of mountains which stretchs across the state above the arctic circle. The other mountain ranges, also somewhat control movement of hot and cold air.

How cold does it get here? Well, in my area, 15 or 20 below a few times in the winter is cold. 360 miles north where some of my kids live, 40 and 50 below are not uncommon. It is so wierd that when it has been 50 below for a few days, for instance, and then warms up to zero, you will feel so ‘warm’ that you will actually go out to feed the chickens or bring in wood, in your shirt sleeves! We have experienced this many times. So I guess you could say, cold is ‘relative’. The coldest recorded I think was 80 degrees below zero at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971. At the other end of the scale, 100 degrees above zero was recorded at Ft. Yukon in 1915. Seventy above is definitely my favorite! -Bonnie J.

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