Adak, Alaska

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Adak, Alaska
Adak during the 2000s
Adak during the 2000s
Coordinates: 51°53′0″N 176°38′42″W / 51.88333°N 176.64500°W / 51.88333; -176.64500
CountryUnited States of America
Census AreaAleutians West
 • MayorThomas Spitler
 • State senatorLyman Hoffman (D)
 • State rep.Bryce Edgmon (D)
 • Total71.47 sq mi (185.10 km2)
 • Land32.87 sq mi (85.14 km2)
 • Water38.60 sq mi (99.96 km2)
164 ft (50 m)
 • Total326
 • Estimate 
 • Density10.01/sq mi (3.86/km2)
Time zoneUTC-10 (Hawaii-Aleutian (HST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-9 (HDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)907
FIPS code02-00065
WebsiteCity Website

Adak /ˈdæk/, formerly Adak Station, (Unangax̂: Adaax) is a city located on Adak Island, in the Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 326, up from 316 in 2000. It is the westernmost municipality in the United States and the southernmost city in Alaska.[3] (See Extreme points of the United States). The city is the former location of the Adak Army Base and Adak Naval Operating Base, NAVFAC Adak. There are no radio stations within 200 miles (320 km) of Adak; radio can be received in Adak only through satellite or shortwave receivers.

Geography and climate[edit]

Adak is located on Kuluk Bay, on Adak Island, in the Andreanof Islands group of the Aleutian Islands Recording District, and in the 3rd Judicial District. It lies 1,200 miles (1,930 km) southwest of Anchorage and 450 miles (724 km) west of Dutch Harbor at 51.872° North, 176.636° West (Sec. 10, T096S, R195W, Seward Meridian),[4] near the Russian end of the arc that makes up this volcanic island chain. Flight time to Anchorage is three hours or longer, depending on weather. Adak is the southernmost community in Alaska and on the same latitude as Haida Gwaii in Canada, and Brussels, Belgium. It is less than three degrees of latitude north of the 49th parallel, which forms the western part of the land border between the Contiguous United States and Canada.

Kanaga Island view with Telephoto from Adak, AK

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 127.3 square miles (330 km2), of which 122.4 square miles (317 km2) is land and 4.9 square miles (13 km2) (3.87%) is water.

Adak lies in the subpolar oceanic climate zone, characterized by persistently overcast skies, moderated temperatures, high winds, significant precipitation and frequent cyclonic storms. Winter squalls produce wind gusts in excess of 100 knots (120 mph; 190 km/h). During the summer, extensive fog forms over the Bering Sea and North Pacific. Average temperatures range from 20 to 60 °F (−7 to 16 °C), but wind chill factors can be severe. Average annual precipitation is 65.6 inches (1,670 mm) annually, concentrated markedly in fall and winter. December is the wettest single month on average, while June and July are markedly the driest months, with thunderstorms virtually unknown here. Snowfall averages nearly 100 inches (2,500 mm) per winter season, which however tends to melt soon after falling. With 263 rainy days per year, Adak has the second highest number of any inhabited locality in the United States after Hilo, Hawaii.

Climate data for Adak, Alaska
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 50
Average high °F (°C) 37.2
Daily mean °F (°C) 33.1
Average low °F (°C) 28.9
Record low °F (°C) 3
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.74
Average snowfall inches (cm) 18.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 24 22 25 22 22 17 16 19 21 25 25 25 263
Source: WRCC[5]

History and culture[edit]

The Aleutian Islands were historically occupied by the Unanga, more commonly known now as the Aleuts. The once heavily populated island was eventually abandoned in the early 19th century as the Aleutian Island hunters followed the Russian fur trade eastward, and famine set in on the Andreanof Island group. However, they continued to hunt and fish actively around the island over the years, until World War II broke out. Adak Army installations allowed U.S. forces to mount a successful offensive against the Japanese-held islands of Kiska and Attu. After the war, Adak was developed as a naval air station, playing an important role during the Cold War as a submarine surveillance center. Large earthquakes rocked the island in 1957, 1964 and 1977.

A series of large concrete buildings with peeling paint, clearly in a state of disrepair
Abandoned military buildings on Adak Island. These buildings house a basketball court, squash court, saunas, bowling alley, and more, all in an unusable state of disrepair.

At its peak, the station housed over 6,000 naval and Coast Guard personnel and their families. In 1994, the base was downsized, and both family housing and schools were closed. The station officially closed on March 31, 1997, as a result of 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). The Aleut Corporation purchased Adak's facilities under a land transfer agreement with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Navy/Department of Defense. This agreement was finalized in March, 2004. About 30 families with children relocated to Adak in September 1998, most of them Aleut Corp. shareholders, and the former high school was reopened at that time as a K-12 institution. The community incorporated as a second-class city in April, 2001. Substantially all of the infrastructure and facilities on Adak are owned by Aleut Corporation, which is currently developing Adak as a commercial center via their subsidiary companies. For example, properties in active use are leased by Adak Commercial Properties, LLC.

Since World War II, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard developed facilities and recreation opportunities at Adak. At its peak, Adak had a college, a McDonald's restaurant, a Baskin-Robbins ice cream stand, movie theater, roller skating rink, swimming pool, ski lodge, bowling alleys, skeet range, auto hobby shop, photo lab, and racquetball & tennis courts. A new $18-million hospital was built in 1990, just seven years prior to the closure of the station. By March 2003, six years after the closure of the station, most of these facilities had closed.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2018329[2]0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]

Adak first appeared on the 2000 U.S. Census as a census-designated place (CDP), although it previously was the Adak Naval Station from 1970 to 1990. In 2001, it formally incorporated as a city. As of the 2010 census, Adak was the only city in Alaska to have a majority Asian population (171 of 326 residents). Akutan and Kodiak have Asian pluralities.

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 316 people, 159 households, and 61 families residing in the city. The population density was 2.6 people per square mile (1.0/km²). There were 884 housing units at an average density of 7.2 per square mile (2.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.68% White, 1.27% Black or African American, 35.13% Native American, 9.81% Asian, 1.90% Pacific Islander, and 2.22% from two or more races. 5.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 159 households 18.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married couples living together, 2.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 61.6% were non-families. 46.5% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.99 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city, the population was spread out with 18.7% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 44.3% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 1.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 184.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 188.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,727, and the median income for a family was $53,889. Males had a median income of $46,429 versus $35,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,747. About 3.3% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, none of whom were under the age of eighteen or over the age of sixty-five.

Utilities, schools, and health care[edit]

Water is derived from Lake Bonnie Rose, Lake De Marie, and Nurses Creek, stored in seven water tanks throughout the community, and piped to facilities and housing units. The wastewater treatment system discharges through a marine outfall line to Kuluk Bay. The permitted landfill, Roberts Landfill, is a Class 2 with balefill. Electricity is provided by TDX Adak.

Adak's water system is known to have lead in it.[8]

There is one school located in the community: Adak School, operated by the Aleutian Region School District.[9] In 2014 the Adak School had 25 students.[10] It was previously served by the Adak Region School District, which closed in June 1996.[11]

Internet, though available, is expensive, with caps on data. Overage use is extremely expensive, and a monopoly exists because personal satellite internet is not available due to the satellite locations. Solar activity blocks communications during equinox seasons for several days of both spring and fall seasons.

There is no hospital; however there is Adak Community Health Center, managed by Eastern Aleutian Tribes, Inc (EAT).

Logo on side of vehicle owned by Eastern Aleutian Tribes Inc.

The health center provides Family Medicine, Chronic Care and urgent care services, and is staffed by a physician-assistant or, at times, by a community health practitioner. There is no doctor, no blood supply, and limited medications to stabilize a patient awaiting a medical evacuation, weather permitting. Behavioral Health is also provided via tele-video and quarterly site visits. EAT sends a dentist to Adak one week per year to provide limited dental services; otherwise, dental services must be referred outside of Adak. Tele-Radiology (X-ray) and Tele-Medicine are also present. Limited lab, pharmacy, and public health services are also available. The pharmacy medications are limited to acute medications. Filling of prescriptions from outside facilities usually cannot be accommodated. All visitors should bring plenty of their own medications as the health center stocks a very limited supply of chronic medications. Adak is classified as an isolated town/sub-regional center, located in EMS Region 2H in the Aleutian/Pribilof Region. Emergency Services have coastal and airport access to Adak. Auxiliary emergency health care is provided by Adak Volunteer Fire Department/EMS.

Facilities, economy and transportation[edit]

A land exchange between Aleut Corp., the U.S. Navy, and the Department of the Interior transferred most of the former naval facilities to the Aleut Corp. in March 2004. A portion of the island remains within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Navy retains part of the north end of Adak Island (Parcel 4) and does annual sweeps of the Andrew Lake Seawall for unexploded ordnance. Their website lists the Institutional Controls in place for all of Adak as part of the land exchange or Interim Conveyance. The Navy provides the trail maps as part of the ordnance awareness information required to be shown to all Adak residents and visitors. Adak currently provides a fueling port and crew transfer facility for a combination of Seattle and Alaskan based fishing fleet — an airport, docks, housing facilities, restaurant, grocery, and ship supply store are available. Golden Harvest Alaska Seafood, LLC, a family-owned and -operated Alaskan Seafood Facility, has revived the community of Adak and employs over 250 Americans from all over the US. Golden Harvest's 144,000-square-foot processing facility is fully equipped with a massive dock, allowing them to service fishing vessels and ocean freight barges of all sizes. It has access to the airplane strip, allowing them to air freight orders. Golden Harvest is working with the Alaskan Government to make Adak a User-Free Facility, allowing them to bring in large cargo planes and barges to ship direct from Adak to world markets. They have successfully chartered entire planes full of Live King Crab to China. Golden Harvest processes Pacific cod, pollock, mackerel, halibut, snow and king crabs. Four residents hold commercial fishing permits, primarily for groundfish; however, commercial fishing vessels based out of Seattle and other parts of Alaska provide most of the work for the fish plant by regularly offloading their catch in Adak.

Because of its naval aviation past, Adak has an unusually large and sophisticated airport for the Aleutian Islands.

Alaska Airlines at Adak Airport

The airport is currently operated by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation. Complete with an Instrument Landing System, Adak Airport has no control tower and two 200' wide asphalt paved runways at 19' elevation. One runway measures 7,790' long while the other runway measures 7,605'. Alaska Airlines operates twice-weekly Boeing 737 passenger jet service from Anchorage. At present, flights operate each Wednesday and Saturday, weather permitting. Occasionally, extra seasonal flights are operated to meet the demand of the fishing season.

Other facilities in Adak include three deep water docks and fueling facilities. The city has requested funds to greatly expand the Sweeper Cove small boat harbor, including new breakwaters, a 315-foot (96 m) dock and new moorage floats[attribution needed]. There are approximately 16 miles (26 km) of paved and primitive roads on Adak, all privately owned by the Aleut Corporation.

The Aleut are also seeking to develop their water system, which has been well-maintained and -designed for a larger Naval population, as an export industry.[12]


At Kuluk Bowl for bowling August 2007

Land use permits are required for all non-residents visiting Aleut Corporation land. Permits can be obtained from the Aleut Enterprise LLC office in Anchorage, or from the Harbormaster at the Port of Adak.

Lodging is available from the Aleutian Housing Authority (AHA), Little Michael Lodges and Rentals, and Aleutian Outfitters. They offer both long-term and short-term accommodations in former Naval officer housing. Housing units are heated and furnished. It is advisable to make reservations in advance.

The cabins once maintained within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge have fallen into disrepair and are unsafe to occupy. The cabin at Three Arm Bay sits on an archaeological site that was transferred to the Aleut Corporation, and is no longer available for rental to the general public.

Camping is possible without a permit on Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge lands, but is generally not recommended due to the harsh climate. The wind on Adak is highly variable and often unpredictable. Gusts can exceed 100 knots (190 km/h) or more (the record speed is unknown because the wind ripped the anemometer off of the tower). During the calmer summer months, sustained wind speeds average in the low double digits gusting to 50 knots (93 km/h) or more.

Adak offers 16 miles (26 km) of paved and gravel roads. These can be explored on foot, by bicycle, or by renting a truck. There is only one vehicle rental business on Adak.

A hiker standing on a rocky knoll, the pink early morning light illuminating snow-covered Mt. Moffett in the background
A hunter pauses to scan the landscape. Mt. Moffett, the highest point on Adak, rises in the background.

Hunting and fishing continue in Adak, especially caribou. There is no bag limit for cows, but in 2007, the Board of Game passed new regulations for bulls. Hunting access to the south end of the island involves two licensed local boat charter services: either Aleutian Adventure Tours or Homeward Bound Charters. Anglers can access halibut in the Kagalaska Straits.

Hunters must possess an Alaska state hunting license and a harvest ticket for each animal taken; non-residents of Alaska must also possess the appropriate big game tag. Anglers require a sport fishing license. All areas of the island with roads are owned by the Aleut Corporation, and a special permit is required for all non-residents accessing this private property. No ATVs are permitted within the wildlife refuge and the Aleut Corporation only allows ATVs on the roads and trails, not on the tundra. Under Alaska state law, wastage is illegal.

Birdwatchers often travel to Adak and nearby Attu Island, as many vagrant birds from Asia and elsewhere can be spotted there. Bald Eagles exist there in high numbers.

A hiker ascends a snowfield, with the sunlit slopes of a large, snowy mountain in the background
A hiker ascends the snowy slopes near Husky Pass, Mt. Reed in the background. Backcountry travel requires extensive outdoor skills and experience, and carrying gear appropriate for volatile and harsh weather.

Developed trails are limited and most are not maintained. It is possible to hike on the tundra, but visitors are advised both to prepare for frequent weather changes and to never hike alone.

Nightlife and dining opportunities are few on Adak. The Adak General Store is open sporadically during the week. Two restaurants operate in Adak: the Bay 5 (which is housed in the same annex building with the liquor store) and Blue Bird Cafe.[13]


Adak is served by the Aleutian Region Schools. The Adak School serves grades K-12.


  1. ^ "2018 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  3. ^ Attu Station, Alaska, is technically east and is not incorporated
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 12 February 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  5. ^ "ADAK, ALASKA (500026)" (PDF). Western Regional Climate Centre. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ "City of Adak, Alaska Adak Municipal Utilities" (PDF). 2013.
  9. ^ "Adak School Information." Aleutian Region School District. Retrieved on February 13, 2017.
  10. ^ "Super Seabirds, Super Kids!." The Adak Eagle's Call. Volume 3, Issue 4, May 2014. p. 3/3. Retrieved on March 15, 2017.
  11. ^ "Alaska School and District Information." Alaska Department of Education. December 19, 2000. Retrieved on February 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Wesley Loy (August 20, 2010). "Aleut Corp. wants to export Adak water". Alaska Journal of Commerce. Archived from the original on 2010-08-23.
  13. ^ "ADAK – AMERICA'S FRINGE". Weekend Roady. 2016-10-16. Retrieved 2017-04-14.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°52′19″N 176°38′10″W / 51.872°N 176.636°W / 51.872; -176.636