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The Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula are two popular attractions of Southwest Alaska, because of the great fishing and wildlife viewing in the areas. It can be damp, foggy and cold in both winter and summer. The central and western Aleutians average less than 10 days with clear skies annually.
While the conditions may not be the most hospitable for people, they create a great splashing ground for salmon in places like Bristol Bay.
Weather in Southcentral Alaska is as varied as the terrain in this region. For the most part, the Pacific Ocean keeps winter temperatures warmer along the coast, while the mountains shield the cold air from the north.
Regardless, wintertime temperatures in Anchorage have reached 30 degrees (F) below zero. Winter usually lasts from mid-October to mid-April. While Anchorage typically receives approximately 70 inches of snow annually, over 500 inches of snow can fall annually on nearby Chugach Mountains. In March of 2001, Anchorage received a record 28.6 inches of snow in a 24-hour period.
Southeast / Inside Passage
Moisture from the Gulf of Alaska feeds the rainforests and glaciers that southeast Alaska is known for. The region receives more precipitation than anywhere else in the state. October is the wettest month of the year, with Juneau receiving more than 7 inches of rain. Despite the heavy rain, thunderstorms and lightning are rare in Southeast Alaska.
Southeast Alaska also experiences the state's highest annual average temperatures. Throughout most of Southeast, the average high temperature is above freezing every month of the year. Summer temperatures have been known to be quite comfortable. Cooler temperatures arrive in September, with winter setting in around November and staying until April.
Interior Alaska can be the warmest part of the state on summer days, with temperatures occasionally climbing into the 90s. By contrast, winter lows can dip to 60 degrees below zero. The temperature extremes are partly due to the amount of sunlight that hits the region – ranging from more than 22 hours of sunlight in the summer to less than 4 hours a day in the heart of the winter.
Precipitation, as well as cloud cover, are relatively light across valleys of Interior Alaska. Fairbanks only receives an average of 12 inches of precipitation (rain and snowmelt) per year. Snow typically covers the ground from October to mid-to-late April.
The Far North
Most of North Alaska lies above the Arctic Circle, where temperatures rarely go above 50 degrees during the year. It is common for temperatures to be 20 degrees below zero and lower during the winter. Temperatures become even more uncomfortable when winds ranging from 10 to 15 mph push the wind chill to 60 degrees below zero and lower.
Precipitation totals in North Alaska are even lower than those of Interior Alaska, measuring 4 to 6 inches annually. However, more precipitation falls than evaporates, making for numerous lakes along the coastal North Slope.