Cold Weather

Lowest Temperatures Recorded in Alaska

Temperatures that go below minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit (-56.7 degrees Celsius) are unheard of in the rest of the United States, but have been reported repeatedly in Alaska.

Alaska's below-70 weather most often occurs in January, as part of a multi-day, wide-spread cold snap. The extreme cold lingers for two or three days, leaving behind broken temperature records. Spells of minus 70 in Alaska were documented on January 19 and 20, 1952, January 4 and 5, 1975 and on January 26 to 28, 1989. Several weather stations measured these bouts of bitter cold.

The coldest blast of weather set the US's record low temperature of minus 80 F (-62.2 C) on January 23, 1971. That record was made during three days of temperatures in the minus 70s which lasted from January 22 to 24 near the Arctic Circle in central Alaska.

Coldest Places in Alaska

The coldest temperatures have cropped up over a broad swath of the state. In eastern Alaska, thermometers have dropped to minus 70 or less at Tok on the Alaska highway and at Eagle near the Yukon border, due east of Fairbanks.

West of Fairbanks, in central Alaska, minus-70 weather has appeared from Manley Hot Springs to Galena. Intense cold has also occurred northwest of Fairbanks, at Allakaket and other places close to the Arctic Circle.

Although flanked by regions prone to minus 70, Fairbanks itself has avoided such severe cold. Official records claim Fairbanks has felt the weather get only as cold as minus 62 F (-52.2 C), which occurred at the airport on December 12, 1961.

For several of Alaska's coldest places in winter, a day of minus-70 weather has not been an isolated incident. Weather stations have recorded minus-70 temperatures more than once over the last six decades at Eagle, Tok, Manley Hot Springs and Allakaket.

The table here gives a list of official weather records for the lowest temperatures in Alaska, when temperatures registered at minus 70 or below.

Coldest temperatures recorded in Alaska
Place °F °C Day
Prospect Creek Camp-80-62.2January 23, 1971
Manley Hot Springs-77-60.6January 5, 1997
Tanana -76-60.0January 27, 1989
Allakaket-75-59.4January 24, 1971
McGrath -75-59.4January 27, 1989
Ambler West-74-58.9January 26, 1989
Chandalar Lake-74-58.9January 29, 1999
Coldfoot Camp-74-58.9January 22, 1971
Manley Hot Springs-73-58.3 January 2, 1989
Aniak -72-57.8January 27, 1989
Chicken-72-57.8December 31, 1999
Clearwater-72-57.8January 6, 1975
Northway-72-57.8January 20, 1952
Eagle-71-57.2January 19, 1952
Farewell Lake-71-57.2January 28, 1989
Northway-71-57.2January 5, 1965
Tok-71-57.2January 5, 1965
Allakaket-70-56.7February 25, 1954
January 23, 1971
Bettles Airport-70-56.7January 4, 1975
Dietrich Camp-70-56.7January 23, 1971
Eagle-70-56.7January 5 & 6, 1975
Galena -70-56.7January 27, 1989
Tanacross -70-56.7December 13, 1956
Tok-70-56.7December 13, 1964
Reference

National Climatic Data Center. Comparative Climatic Data.

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