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62 below: Deep freeze grips much of Alaska

Downtown Anchorage, Alaska, has seen a snowy and icy winter, including this scene from Jan. 18.

Even if it has been warmer than usual in much of the United States, there's no denying Alaska is seeing a real winter, even by its standards.

Anchorage is shivering through one of its coldest January's on record, while in Fairbanks, folks preparing for a sled dog race were being tested by temperatures nearly 50 degrees below zero. Farther inland, Fort Yukon has ranged from minus 50 to minus 62 degrees over the last three days, getting close to its record of minus 78.


Anchorage's average temperature for January has been 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the Alaska Daily News reported. That's well below its average of 15 degrees, and only three other years (1947, 1925 and 1920) have been colder, National Weather Service data show.

It's so cold for Anchorage, the Daily News reported, that:

  • Cross country ski practices by the Junior Nordic League have been canceled due to temps dipping below the official cut-off of minus 4 degrees.
  • Tow trucks are so busy helping folks with dead car batteries that it can take up to four hours to get service.
  • Some schools have had only a handful of outdoor recess days this month.

In Fairbanks, where the Yukon Quest sled dog race starts on Saturday, some racers have had a hard time moving their trucks around due to a freeze that kept engines from starting, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Fort Yukon, for its part, dipped to 62 degrees below zero on Saturday, then hit 59 below on Sunday, the National Weather Service reported.

The deep freeze is in addition to the record snow and blizzard conditions seen earlier this month in towns like Cordova and Valdez. Even Anchorage is on track to see a record snow season, having received more than twice its average amount so far.