When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)

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"When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)" is a 1959 single by Johnny Horton. The single was Johnny Horton's sixth release on the country chart and the first of three number ones on the country chart.[1] The single spent twenty-three weeks on the chart. The song was a marginally successful crossover, reaching #85 on the Music Vendor Pop Top 100.

The song takes place in Fairbanks, Alaska in the springtime. The narrator/singer is a prospector making a trip to Fairbanks after two years in the wilderness; he decides to visit a saloon and hears "redheaded Lil" singing the title words. He and Lil spend the evening dancing, but the singer is unaware that Lil is "Big Ed's wife-to-be." Big Ed discovers the two dancing and throws his knife at the singer, who predicts that he will not survive his wound: "When it's springtime in Alaska, I'll be six feet below."

The lyrics say the temperature outside is −40 °F (−40 °C). While it is very rare for the temperature to actually be that low in the springtime in Fairbanks, it has happened. A low temperature of −40 °F (−40 °C) was recorded at the Fairbanks International Airport on March 30, 1970.[2] The coldest time of the year in Fairbanks is around January 13 of each year, with night-time low temperatures at this time averaging around −23 °F (−31 °C) and daytime high temperatures averaging around −4 °F (−20 °C).[2] The coldest-ever low temperature recorded there was −62 °F (−52 °C), on December 28 and 29, 1961.[2]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 162. 
  2. ^ a b c "Fairbanks Intl. Airport, Alaska (502968) – Period of Record Daily Climate Summary". Western Regional Climate Center. 
Preceded by
"Don't Take Your Guns to Town" by Johnny Cash
Hot C&W Sides
number one single by Johnny Horton

April 6, 1959
Succeeded by
"White Lightning" by George Jones