Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alaska vs the lower 48

Something that has been really bothering me these past couple weeks is the ignorance of people, especially my friends. I know that the East coast is experiencing a HUGE heat wave that will hopefully break soon, and it is pretty miserable for most people. So  naturally, people are wishing for cooler climates and have been making comments about 'moving to Alaska because it's cold there all the time'.... and I am getting really tired and annoyed at those I know commenting like this. They *know* that not all of Alaska is cold all the time - because I have told them! I know these comments are meant as a joke, with no harm or insults intended (and I'm not offended, just really protective - which is weird because I've only lived here five months and I already feel very protective of where I live), but it still irks me.

And so some facts about Alaska:
Think of the Lower 48 states as a whole - The weather in MA is different than in Florida is different than in Illinois is different than in Colorado is different than in Oregon. The same is true in Alaska - in all seasons. For example. Anchorage right now is somewhat overcast/sunny with some rain but most temps are hovering between 50-70 degrees - much cooler than what most states on the east coast are experiencing. But go upstate...like Fairbanks. Or Denali National Park. Want to know what the temperature is up there? 100+ degrees. That's because it's land-locked.  Anchorage is cooler because we have a mountain range buffer and we sit right on the coast. The winter is different...Fairbanks gets to -60 degrees easily...and the farther North you go, the colder it can get. Anchorage is about the same as Northern Maine in temperature...when I moved up here in March, it was colder than MA but MA had twice as much snow as Anchorage did. The air if dry here (in Anchorage) so even with the little snow that happens...it stays for a long time.
Yes, much of the state gets dark in the winter. Only in the highest parts of the state, above Fairbanks (and maybe even some of Fairbanks has less than four hours of sunlight a day - if that. South of Fairbanks and into Anchorage and the rest of South-central and Southeast Alaska experiences more darkness but most days see between six and eight hours of light every day.

So for those of you wanting to make comments on other states when you are in the middle of a heat wave...please remember us who live there and what we have told you. And make your comment more accurate rather than lumping one whole state (practically the size of the lower 48 combined) into one category. Because it is much different than that!

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