Interior Alaska

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Interior Alaska.
Fall in Interior Alaska.

Interior Alaska is the central region of Alaska's territory, roughly bounded by the Alaska Range to the south and the Brooks Range to the north. It is largely wilderness. Mountains include Denali in the Alaska Range, the Wrangell Mountains, and the Ray Mountains. The native people of the interior are Alaskan Athabaskans. The largest city in the interior is Fairbanks, Alaska's second-largest city, in the Tanana Valley. Other towns include North Pole, just southeast of Fairbanks, Eagle, Tok, Glennallen, Delta Junction, Nenana, Anderson, Healy and Cantwell. The interior region has an estimated population of 113,154.

Climate[edit]

Northern Lights and Big Dipper at Fairbanks, AK during September.

Interior Alaska experiences extreme seasonal temperature variability. Winter temperatures in Fairbanks average −12 °F (−24 °C) and summer temperatures average +62 °F (+17 °C). Temperatures there have been recorded as low as −65 °F (−54 °C) in mid-winter, and as high as +99 °F (+37 °C) in summer. Both the highest and lowest temperature records for the state were set in the Interior, with 100 °F (38 °C) in Fort Yukon and −80 °F (−64 °C) in Prospect Creek.[1] Temperatures within a given winter are highly variable as well; extended cold snaps of forty below zero can be followed by unseasonable warmth with temperatures above freezing due to chinook wind effects.

Summers can be as wet for extended periods creating ideal fire weather conditions. Weak thunderstorms produce mostly dry lightning, sparking wildfires that are mostly left to burn themselves out as they are often far from populated areas. The 2004 season set a new record with over 6,600,000 acres (27,000 km2) burned.

Lakes and peaks of the Alaska Range seen from the Denali Highway

The average annual precipitation in Fairbanks is 11.3 inches (28.7 cm). Most of this comes in the form of snow during the winter. Most storms in the interior of Alaska originate in the Gulf of Alaska, south of the state, though these storms often have limited precipitation due to a rain shadow effect caused by the Alaska Range.

On clear winter nights, the aurora borealis can often be seen dancing in the sky. Like all subarctic regions, the months from May to July in the summer have no night, only a twilight during the night hours. The months of November to January have little daylight. Fairbanks receives an average 21 hours of daylight between May 10 and August 2 each summer, and an average of less than four hours of daylight between November 18 and January 24 each winter.

The interior of Alaska is largely underlined by discontinuous permafrost, which grades to continuous permafrost as the Arctic Circle is approached.

Climate data for Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska (1991–2020 normals,[2] extremes 1904–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 52
(11)
50
(10)
56
(13)
76
(24)
90
(32)
96
(36)
99
(37)
93
(34)
84
(29)
72
(22)
54
(12)
58
(14)
99
(37)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 29.7
(−1.3)
35.4
(1.9)
45.1
(7.3)
61.9
(16.6)
76.6
(24.8)
85.1
(29.5)
85.0
(29.4)
80.0
(26.7)
69.3
(20.7)
54.8
(12.7)
32.7
(0.4)
32.2
(0.1)
87.5
(30.8)
Average high °F (°C) 0.6
(−17.4)
11.6
(−11.3)
24.9
(−3.9)
45.6
(7.6)
62.1
(16.7)
71.8
(22.1)
72.7
(22.6)
66.4
(19.1)
55.3
(12.9)
34.1
(1.2)
12.3
(−10.9)
4.3
(−15.4)
38.5
(3.6)
Daily mean °F (°C) −8.3
(−22.4)
0.2
(−17.7)
10.7
(−11.8)
33.7
(0.9)
50.3
(10.2)
61.0
(16.1)
62.9
(17.2)
57.0
(13.9)
45.8
(7.7)
26.2
(−3.2)
4.1
(−15.5)
−4.3
(−20.2)
28.3
(−2.1)
Average low °F (°C) −17.2
(−27.3)
−11.2
(−24.0)
−3.4
(−19.7)
21.7
(−5.7)
38.6
(3.7)
50.2
(10.1)
53.1
(11.7)
47.6
(8.7)
36.2
(2.3)
18.4
(−7.6)
−4.1
(−20.1)
−13
(−25)
18.1
(−7.7)
Mean minimum °F (°C) −43.2
(−41.8)
−36.0
(−37.8)
−27.3
(−32.9)
−2.4
(−19.1)
26.2
(−3.2)
40.2
(4.6)
44.2
(6.8)
36.1
(2.3)
23.4
(−4.8)
−2.9
(−19.4)
−25.9
(−32.2)
−36.5
(−38.1)
−45.8
(−43.2)
Record low °F (°C) −66
(−54)
−58
(−50)
−56
(−49)
−32
(−36)
−1
(−18)
28
(−2)
30
(−1)
21
(−6)
3
(−16)
−28
(−33)
−54
(−48)
−62
(−52)
−66
(−54)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.61
(15)
0.52
(13)
0.40
(10)
0.34
(8.6)
0.54
(14)
1.48
(38)
2.26
(57)
2.10
(53)
1.35
(34)
0.76
(19)
0.74
(19)
0.57
(14)
11.67
(296)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.2
(26)
10.0
(25)
6.5
(17)
3.1
(7.9)
0.9
(2.3)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
2.3
(5.8)
8.2
(21)
12.5
(32)
10.9
(28)
64.6
(164)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.7 6.9 5.7 3.7 6.2 10.8 12.8 13.5 10.7 9.8 9.5 8.8 107.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 10.2 8.3 6.7 2.6 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 8.3 11.2 10.4 59.6
Average relative humidity (%) 69.3 65.5 60.4 56.2 50.2 56.6 64.2 70.8 68.9 74.1 72.8 71.3 65.0
Average dew point °F (°C) −17.0
(−27.2)
−11.9
(−24.4)
−0.2
(−17.9)
16.2
(−8.8)
29.7
(−1.3)
42.6
(5.9)
48.7
(9.3)
46.0
(7.8)
34.5
(1.4)
17.4
(−8.1)
−3.8
(−19.9)
−13.2
(−25.1)
15.8
(−9.0)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 54 120 224 302 319 334 274 164 122 85 71 36 2,105
Source 1: [3][4] NOAA (relative humidity 1961–1990)[5][6][7]
Source 2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun, 1931–1960)[8]

Alaska Natives[edit]

While the vast majority of indigenous Native people of Interior Alaska are Athabaskan Indians, large Yup'ik and Iñupiaq populations reside in Fairbanks.[9]

The federally recognized tribes of Interior Alaska:[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "State Extremes". Western Regional Climate Center, Desert Research Institute. Archived from the original on 5 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-03.
  2. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  3. ^ Shulski, p. 155
  4. ^ Alaska Climate Research Center. "Fairbanks International Airport, AK" Archived January 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, climate.gi.alaska.edu. Accessed October 4, 2009.
  5. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  6. ^ "Station: FAIRBANKS INTL AP, AK". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  7. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for FAIRBANKS/INTL, AK 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  8. ^ Cappelen, John; Jensen, Jens. "USA - Fairbanks, Alaska" (PDF). Climate Data for Selected Stations (1931-1960) (in Danish). Danish Meteorological Institute. p. 303. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 27, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  9. ^ a b ihs.gov: Interior Alaska Service Area

Coordinates: 65°N 152°W / 65°N 152°W / 65; -152