Fairbanks has one of the widest temperature ranges of any city in the world. The mercury can plummet to -66°F in January and soar to 99°F in July, a whopping 165-degree differential. In addition, one day in July could be 90°F and cloudless, while the next day could be 40°F and rainy. But it isn’t just the temperatures that change so much. On the summer solstice, Fairbanks days last 21 hours and 50 minutes of glorious daylight, but winter nights get longer and longer. At the winter solstice low point (Dec. 21) the sun creeps above the horizon for just three hours and 42 minutes.
Fairbanks winters are notoriously cold, with temperatures often dropping below zero (though you might also see some times when it’s a balmy 20°F). By 40 or 50 degrees below zero, car tires go hard as a rock and can explode if you drive too fast before they warm up. Fan belts snap in the cold, and vehicles need block heaters or they will never start (electrical outlets are in front of many businesses).
Fairbanks folks adapt to the harsh winters, and you’ll even find them out skiing, dogsledding, or snowmobiling when the mercury hides out at the bottom of the thermometer. But they also have a comfortable central library with indoor trees where they can pretend it’s spring even when it’s months away.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition