Juneau experiences an oceanic climate, while areas in the north of the panhandle, where the state capital is situated, experience subarctic oceanic weather. This is one of the mildest parts of Alaska in the winter months, when temperatures hover above freezing and one of the wettest parts at all other times of the year.
Anchorage also experiences a relatively mild climate by Alaskan standards, partly due to its closeness to the coast. Cool, brief summers and snowy winters are the norm here. In contrast, Western Alaskan weather varies enormously, but on the whole is less cold than one might expect with this region being so far north.
The subarctic Interior sees some of the state’s lowest and highest mercury readings, with temperatures typically ranging from the mid-30’s (°C) to -50°C and little rain. The Arctic climate of the far north means this frigid region experiences lengthy, bitterly cold winters and cool, brief summers with temperatures which are often just a few degrees above freezing and little precipitation.
Best time to visit Alaska
With weather in Alaska being unpredictable, it is best for visitors to come prepared for whatever the climate may throw at them. Many visitors like to come in summer (June through August), when long daylight hours and sunny temperatures prevail in places like Anchorage. However, this is also when hotel prices are at a premium. Lower prices can be enjoyed during the shoulder months of May and September, but the latter month is when rainstorms move in to many areas and tourist services begin to close up.
October and November see the transition from warm (or cool) to cold weather and short daylight hours. If you can brave it, the winter season, December to March, offers magnificent scenery and the Northern Lights, but less in the way of wildlife spotting opportunities than summer. This is also when winter sports such as snowmobiling and ice skating come in full swing, and hotel prices are at their lowest.
Weather by Region
The weather in the interior of the state is typically pretty mild, but it still offers some of warmest days in the state. During December and January, temperatures usually hover around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. However, by June, July and August, the temperature in the interior can rise to around 70 degrees, making it the ideal time to visit this region. The proper clothing for this area depends on the season. If travelers are going here in the winter, warm clothing such as jackets, hats and gloves will be necessary. The summer months will require lighter clothing, such as jeans, short-sleeve shirts and maybe a windbreaker.
In the northern areas of Alaska, there tends to be some of the coldest temperatures in the state, as it can drop to about -20 degrees in January through March. The best time for traveling here, and also the warmest months in this region, are June through August, with temperatures reaching around 35 to 45 degrees. At any time of the year, people who travel to the north of Alaska should bring sweaters, hats, gloves, jackets and warm boots.
People who venture to the inside passage of Alaska will find that it has fairly cool temperatures. During the winter months, such as December and January, temperatures are usually around 20 degrees. Then, during the summer, visitors can expect to find temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees, making it the perfect time for a trip here. The weather in the southern part of the state is fairly similar, with the difference being that the winter months here can mean temperatures that are at or below freezing. Generally, the weather in both of these regions will demand clothing such as jeans, both long- and short-sleeve shirts and a light jacket.
Though Denali does endure a long and frigid winter, its growing season from mid-May through mid-September can be actually quite comfortable. With an average temperature hovering near the mid 60s (with highs as much as 75 degrees) and frequent rains, even the warmest months will be rather pleasant.
It is important to note, however, that the climate in the area can shift very quickly. Guides have been known to tell visitors that they can expect, sun, rain, wind and clouds all within the same day. It’s also not unheard of to see snow in July, though that may be more in line with Alaska’s reputation than the warmer days.
Those adventurers considering tackling Mount McKinley will definitely want to prepare for the cold, as temperatures recorded at the Alpine Club’s weather station can dip as low as negative 22 degrees in July.