Alaska's Best Seasons, Based on Average Temperatures
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Given Alaska's size, it should come as no surprise that the state's climate varies greatly from region to region. The region's location far to the north of the American continent, but entirely surrounded by water, only adds to the complexity of the situation.
Here, I'll do my best to provide an overview of the seasonal climate variations across the globe. To narrow down which parts of Alaska you want to visit, though, I recommend reading my guide on the subject.
In that case, let's determine the optimal time to visit Alaska.
What to Expect From Alaska's Weather
The state of Alaska is often associated with colder climates because of its northern location, but this is not always the case. It doesn't get that cold in some parts of the state during the summer. To analyze the country from this perspective, it is necessary to divide it up into regions.
- Down the Coast Instead of palm trees and umbrellas, you might see seals and puffins on Alaskan beaches. But that doesn't mean the ocean stays frozen solid. The Gulf of Alaska has a warm current that keeps the water temperature at around 43 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. The coastline is so rocky that it features a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. There is a lack of rain in Anchorage Bay, but there is no shortage of snow in the winter. However, the climate is manageable, with an average temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit in January (the coldest month). The amount and frequency of precipitation increases as we move eastward. Valdez, Alaska, receives an average of 24 feet of snow per year (and has seen records of almost twice that amount). Juneau, located in the Inside Passage region, has an average January temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit, making it even milder than Anchorage.
- West Coast Alaska's Russian-facing side is chillier than the state's southern coast. As the land moves away from the coast, the sea cools, bringing with it a markedly different climate. We have a hard time getting above 59 degrees Fahrenheit, even in the middle of summer. Since this is the case, the entire coast experiences cold and uniform summers. In the winter, however, conditions vary greatly from place to place. Temperatures around Nome can drop to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, while those in Cape Newenham average around 14 degrees and those in the Aleutian Islands average around 23 degrees.
- Coasts of the Northern Sea Located above the Arctic Circle, this region is ruled by tundra and is subject to the year-round cold of a subarctic climate. It never gets very hot in the summer (July averages are around 44°F), and the winters can get as cold as -22°F at night.
- Regions with Mountains The Alaska Range (which extends from Canada to Anchorage and features the world-famous Mount McKinley) and the Brooks Range (which runs parallel to the Alaska Range but north of the Arctic Circle) create a horizontal furrow across the state of Alaska. Given the altitude and latitude, snow and ice reign supreme all year on these mountains.
- Interior Fairbanks, located in the state's interior between the Brooks and Fairweather mountain ranges, experiences a severe seasonal temperature swing typical of a continental climate. The summers are brief and comfortable, with occasional hot periods where highs hover around 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (rarely reaching 86 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Extremely low temperatures are the norm from October through April. A typical day in Fairbanks during the winter months has a high of 5 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of -13 degrees Fahrenheit, but temperatures can drop to -40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Aspects of Fall in Alaska
It's best to avoid Alaska in the fall. Especially in the southern part of the state, the temperature begins to drop and the rain increases in frequency. However, this is highly dependent on your desired tourist activities. Cities and more easily accessible parts of the south can still be enjoyed in the right clothes during this time of year. Additionally, if you travel to Sitka in the month of October, you can participate in the commemoration of the day Alaska was officially purchased from Russia.
Extreme cold in Alaska during the winter
To put it bluntly, Alaska in the winter is not for you if you are not a fan of subzero temperatures. Don't look down on the north, though, if you want to see some of the world's most stunning landscapes. Traveling to Alaska in the winter is primarily motivated by hopes of viewing the Northern Lights. So, even though there may not be much daylight in the winter, a trip to the state's north central region is still recommended.
For this reason, February and March are preferable to December and January; they share the same cold, snow, and, most importantly, magical green lights in the sky, but offer more daylight hours. If you're planning a winter trip, you might want to think about bringing a team of sled dogs along.
The State of Alaska in the Spring
When winter turns to spring, the melting snow and ice fill the lowlands of a country, making for a muddy spring. Visiting Alaska in April (or May/June in the northern regions) is not recommended. As soon as the sun comes out, the snow melts, making it nearly impossible to move around in the suburbs.
Since there is little room for maneuver, the risk is This isn't an issue if you plan on traveling to the coast by ship, of course. For those interested in seeing bears emerge from hibernation in the spring, researching in advance the specific weeks when this occurs is essential.
Summertime in Alaska
If you're wondering when is the best time to visit Alaska, the answer is obvious: summer. There's no question that June, July, and August are the best time to visit this state. For a short period of time, the extreme cold disappears, and while you'll still need to bundle up, the weather is more tolerable. June is the least rainy of the three months and the coolest.
As a result, June might be the most ideal time for our Alaska vacation. In any case, temperature isn't the only factor to think about. Whales, in search of plankton, arrive in the summer, making it the best time to see them and other large land mammals. It is highly unlikely that a tourist to Alaska will return from a summer trip without seeing at least one bear or moose.
When to Visit Alaska based on the Weather
Visit Alaska in the summer, ideally in June or July, if this will be your first time there. At this time of year, the weather is ideal, and all you need is a few good layers to have a wonderful getaway. Summer is the best time to enjoy most of the state's attractions. Adventures on boats, glaciers, and summits of mountains will take your breath away, and you'll get to see amazing wildlife up close.
If you aren't used to traveling in harsh natural environments, you should avoid going in the middle of the season, when the weather is the most unpredictable. Don't write off winter just because there are fewer things to do than in the summer; there are still things to do that will leave you with fond memories. The thrill of riding a husky sled into uncharted territory as the sun sets in a sky tinged with emerald green is one you won't soon forget. But be well-equipped if you opt for winter; a lightweight windbreaker won't cut it when the mercury drops to -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that you've decided to visit Alaska, it would be helpful to read the articles about the sights there and the guide to deciding where to go to see the state's wildlife.
Guests are cautioned to check the venues' official websites as regular business hours are subject to change and closures for special events do occur.
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