Cold Bay, Alaska

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Cold Bay
Aerial view of Cold Bay taken during the late 20th century. Cold Bay Airport's runways are visible.
Aerial view of Cold Bay taken during the late 20th century. Cold Bay Airport's runways are visible.
Cold Bay is located in Alaska
Cold Bay
Cold Bay
Location in Alaska
Coordinates: 55°12′33″N 162°42′51″W / 55.20917°N 162.71417°W / 55.20917; -162.71417
Country United States
State Alaska
Borough Aleutians East
Incorporated January 1982
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Mayor Candace Schaack
 • State senator Lyman Hoffman (D)
 • State rep. Bryce Edgmon (D)
 • Total 70.9 sq mi (183.7 km2)
 • Land 54.4 sq mi (140.8 km2)
 • Water 16.6 sq mi (42.9 km2)
Elevation 138 ft (42 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 109
 • Estimate (2015) 60
Time zone Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)
 • Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-8)
ZIP code 99571
Area code 907 (local prefix: 532)
FIPS code 02-16530

Cold Bay (Udaamagax in Aleut)[2] is a city in Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 108.

Cold Bay is one of the main commercial centers of the Alaska Peninsula, and is home to Cold Bay Airport.


There is evidence of prehistoric occupation by Aleuts and later Russian encampments. Cold Bay's American history began with the Japanese invasion of the Aleutians in World War II. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. ordered the creation of Fort Randall, an airbase on the shores of Cold Bay, in 1942 as a part of a general expansion of American assets in the Aleutians. It (along with Otter Point) served as a base for the 11th Air Force to provide protection to the only deep water port in the Aleutians at the time, Dutch Harbor. This protection was proved necessary when during Yamamoto's Midway Campaign a diversionary attack was launched against Dutch Harbor. The initial attack was repulsed by the surprise presence of P-40s stationed here. A second larger attack with its own fighter escort the next day succeeded in causing minor damage. Later, with the victory in the Pacific, the forces grew to 20,000 troops. The quonset huts used to house this massive encampment still stand around the community today. It also was a base of operations for the US Navy with the USS Casco among those based in Cold Bay[3]

In the spring and summer of 1945, Cold Bay was the site of the largest and most ambitious transfer program of World War II, Project Hula, in which the United States transferred dozens of ships and craft to the Soviet Union and trained Soviet personnel in their operation in anticipation of the Soviet Union entering the war against Japan.

In later decades, control of the airfield passed to civil authorities, who maintained it as a particularly useful location for fueling and emergency landing needs on great circle flights from the west coast of the United States to East Asia. A Distant Early Warning Line station was established nearby and eventually was decommissioned.

During the 1980s, deregulation of the airline industry under President Ronald Reagan caused many of the compelling interests[who?] supporting the need for the community to evaporate. Today, Cold Bay functions as a hub for traffic from Anchorage and Seattle to the small communities around it, and continues to serve as an emergency runway for aircraft flying over the North Pacific.

On 30 October 2013, Delta Air Lines Flight 208 made an emergency landing at Cold Bay Airport after a warning message appeared on an engine control panel. A second aircraft from Seattle was sent to pick up the passengers and take them to their intended destination, San Francisco. Passengers were allowed to stay in Cold Bay's community center while they waited for the plane from Seattle.


Cold Bay is located at 55°12′33″N 162°42′51″W / 55.20917°N 162.71417°W / 55.20917; -162.71417 (55.209038, -162.714298).[4] It is west of Hawaii.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 70.9 square miles (184 km2), of which, 54.4 square miles (141 km2) of it is land and 16.6 square miles (43 km2) of it (23.34%) is water.

Cold Bay holds the record for most overcast community in America.[5]


Cold Bay has the typical subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc) of southwest Alaska, though the winters are almost cold enough to qualify as a subarctic climate (Dfc) and the summers are almost cool enough to qualify as a polar climate (ET). Cold Bay is considered the cloudiest place in the United States, with an average of 304 days of heavy overcast (covering over 3/4 of the sky).[6]

Climate data for Cold Bay, Alaska
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 51
Average high °F (°C) 33.1
Daily mean °F (°C) 28.6
Average low °F (°C) 24.1
Record low °F (°C) −8
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.84
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01-inch) 19.0 17.3 18.0 16.1 17.4 16.0 16.7 19.9 20.7 22.7 21.6 20.6 226
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 inch) 3.6 3.6 3.6 1.8 0.5 0 0 0 0 1.0 2.5 3.6 20.2
Source #1: [7]
Source #2: [8](snowfall means)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 86
1980 226
1990 148 −34.5%
2000 88 −40.5%
2010 108 22.7%
Est. 2015 123 [9] 13.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

Cold Bay is a highly transient community, lacking the generational attachment characteristic of the surrounding native villages. Residents, drawn to the area largely by the Wildlife Refuge, Weather Service, or air traffic jobs, rarely stay more than a year in Cold Bay.

2000 census[edit]

At the 2000 census, there were 88 people, 36 households and 18 families residing in the city. The population density was 1.6 per square mile (0.6/km²). There were 98 housing units at an average density of 1.8 per square mile (0.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72% White, 3% Black or African American, 17% Native American, 5% Asian, 2%Pacific Islander, and 1%from two or more races. 2%of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 36 households of which 33% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44% were married couples living together, 3%had a female householder with no husband present, and 50% were non-families. 36% 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 2 and the average family size was 3.

Age distribution was 24% under the age of 18, 9% from 18 to 24, 40% from 25 to 44, 27% from 45 to 64. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 184 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 205 males.

The median household income was $55,750, and the median family income was $64,375. Males had a median income of $36,250 versus $38,333 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,037. There were no families and 27% of the population living below the poverty line, including no one under eighteen or over 64.


Cold Bay has a significant Baptist population. The city's only church is Cold Bay Community Chapel, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.[11]


Cold Bay has one store, the Bearfoot Inn Alaska, formerly known as the World Famous Weathered Inn. It supplies groceries to the residents of Cold Bay and other communities within the Aleutians East Borough, although many residents order groceries and supplies from suppliers in Anchorage and Seattle. The Bearfoot Inn also offers lodging with its 8-room hotel and 6-room bunk house. Within the main building there is the Bearfoot Inn Bar which is open 3 to 6 days a week depending on the season. Bearfoot Inn is within walking distance of the airport.

Cold Bay Lodge is the only restaurant in town. The lodge can accommodate up to 40 people, has wireless Internet access, and is less than a mile from the airport.



A major community event is the Silver Salmon Derby, a fishing contest that takes place every fall. Participants vie in both adult and child categories for cash prizes for the largest fish. A raft race and "Polar Bear Jump" are also held. The Derby concludes with a banquet and door prize giveaway in the school gymnasium.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge[edit]

The 498,000-acre (2,020 km2) Izembek refuge was established in 1960. It encompasses several large lagoons, including the 30-mile (48 km) Izembek Lagoon, which serve as a food source and shelter for a large migratory bird population.

Approximately 130,000 Pacific black brant, 62,000 emperor geese, 50,000 Taverner's Canada geese, 300,000 ducks, and 80,000 shore birds stop over in the Izembek area during migration and as many as 50,000 Steller's eiders find winter grounds there.[12]


Cold Bay was incorporated as a city in January 1982.[13] Cold Bay is classified by the state government as a second-class city.[14] As such, it is governed by a seven-member city council, which elects the city's mayor from among its membership. The current mayor is Candace Schaack, a University of Alaska distance student. Schaack became acting mayor in August 2015 when the incumbent, Jorge Lopez, left Cold Bay and returned to his hometown in northern California.[15] The city clerk is Dawn Lyons.[14]


The following individuals have served as the mayor of Cold Bay since its incorporation:

Tenure Name
1982–1984 Monte M. Larsh [16][17]
1984–1985 Donald Dennis [18]
1985–1997 [Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
1997–1998 Alan Ellis [19]
1998–1999 Jim Blowers [20]
1999–2004 Happy Kremer
2004–2010 John Maxwell [21][22][23][24]
2010–2015 Jorge Lopez
2015–present Candace Schaack (acting)


Cold Bay School[edit]

The Cold Bay School was the community's public grade school, operated by the Aleutians East Borough School District (AEBSD), until its closure in May 2015. AEBSD's school board voted to close Cold Bay School following the conclusion of the 2014–2015 school year due to a decline in enrollment, which led to the loss of state funding.[15] The school employed one teacher and served between four and nine students in its last years.

In the 1980s, the school typically enrolled around 30 students.[25] In 1985 it reached peak enrollment, with 50 students and four teachers.[25] Despite its remote location, the school was involved in state and national activities, such as hosting the military's "Operation Arctic Care" outreach health program in 2002, and by briefly becoming involved with reporting for CNN Student Bureau that same year.




Cold Bay has approximately 40 miles of gravel roads, and a state-owned paved highway.[14]


The Alaska Marine Highway travels between Cold Bay and Kodiak twice a month between May and October, and cargo ships visit the city monthly from Seattle, Washington.[14] Currently, the city only has a dock and a seaplane base, but the city hopes to develop a breakwater, boat harbor and boat launch.[14]


Cold Bay is serviced by Cold Bay Airport, holding the fifth-largest runway in Alaska,[citation needed] and a second, smaller one. Regional flights occur six times a week.


  1. ^ "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Bergsland, K. (1994). Aleut Dictionary. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. 
  3. ^ "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships". U.S. Department of the Navy. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "COLD BAY, ALASKA: NORMALS, MEANS, AND EXTREMES - Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary 3/2/1950 to 12/31/2009". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "COLD BAY WB AIRPORT, ALASKA - Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary 3/2/1950 to 12/31/2009". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Cold Bay Community Chapel". FaithStreet. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ Izembek National Wildlife Refuge website
  13. ^ 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. January 1996. p. 42. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Cold Bay". Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Boots, Michelle Theriault (August 8, 2015). "The last kid in Cold Bay". Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage). Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  16. ^ Alaska Municipal Officials Directory 1983. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. 1983. p. 24. 
  17. ^ Alaska Municipal Officials Directory 1984. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. 1984. p. 25. 
  18. ^ Alaska Municipal Officials Directory 1985. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. 1985. p. 35. 
  19. ^ 1998 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. January 1998. p. 42. 
  20. ^ 1999 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. January 1999. p. 42. 
  21. ^ "PUBLIC LANDS: 'The scariest plane ride of your life'". Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  22. ^ 2005 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs / Alaska Municipal League. January 2005. p. 43. 
  23. ^ 2007 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development / Alaska Municipal League. March 2007. p. 44. 
  24. ^ 2008 Alaska Community Directory. Anchorage: Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Division of Community & Regional Affairs. January 2008. p. 69. 
  25. ^ a b Region, United States Minerals Management Service Alaska OCS (1985-01-01). Proposed North Aleutian Basin lease sale (sale 92): draft environmental impact statement. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°12′33″N 162°42′51″W / 55.209038°N 162.714298°W / 55.209038; -162.714298