Bone-chilling cold makes it feel like 88 below zero in remote Alaskan town

By Jessica Storm,
A combination of dangerously low temperatures and bitter winds are making for bone-chilling weather in Alaska this week. Photo courtesy of Katmai National Park/Twitter
A combination of dangerously low temperatures and bitter winds are making for bone-chilling weather in Alaska this week. Photo courtesy of Katmai National Park/Twitter

As temperatures rise across the West Coast, potentially breaking records across California, it's a different story farther north in Alaska. Thanks to a combination of dangerously low temperatures and bitter winds, bone-chilling weather has overtaken the Last Frontier this week.

Bettles, Alaska, located in the north-central part of the state, had a low temperature of 51 degrees below zero Fahrenheit Sunday morning, well below the average of 15 below zero F this time of year. During the day Sunday, the afternoon temperature barely peaked at 25 below zero F. Prudhoe Bay, situated on the state's northeast coast, had similar conditions with a morning low of 47 below zero and a daytime high of 27 below zero, both well below the average low of 21 below zero F.


On Monday morning, the remote northern town of Deadhorse reached 50 below zero, with winds making it feel as low as 88 below zero. Believe it or not, that's not the coldest it's ever felt in Deadhorse. It felt like 101 below zero on Jan. 28, 1989.

Meanwhile, Nuiqsut hit an actual temperature of 53 below zero. Howard Pass, home to some of the state's most extreme weather, reported a wind chill of 91 below zero, only a few degrees away from the town's unofficial record wind chill of 100 below zero F, set in 2014.

This image, captured early Tuesday, shows temperatures across Alaska, with the northern tier experiencing the coldest conditions. Image courtesy of AccuWeather

Utqiagvik reached minus 30 early Monday, and temperatures did not get much higher throughout the day with a high of minus 25 F. This is the lowest high temperature the town has reported so far this winter.

"The intense cold is confined to the northern part of the state across the Brooks Range and the North Slope," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

Farther south on Monday, temperatures in the Fairbanks area struggled to rise above zero degrees, several degrees below the average of 8 F for this time of year. However, under 400 miles south, the city of Anchorage stayed a couple of degrees above its average, which is in the mid-20s, largely thanks to warmer air from the ocean.

"The jet stream is running through the middle of the state, with the polar vortex and Arctic air trapped over northern Alaska producing dangerous low temperatures and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures that are abnormal even for one of the coldest parts of the country," said AccuWeather meteorologist Thomas Geiger.

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Fairbanks and Anchorage will likely have high temperatures near normal on Tuesday, though the frigid air will creep into Fairbanks after Tuesday as well, sending highs back below zero again.


"Extreme cold will continue Tuesday and Wednesday in Utqiagvik with highs around 25 below zero which is 20 [degrees] below normal for this time of year," said Pydynowski, adding that lows will still not be anywhere near record levels.

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