Northernmost US city sees first sunrise in 66 days

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
January 23, 2019, 5:27:07 PM EST

For the first time since Nov. 18, Utqiaġvik, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States, saw the sun rise above the horizon on Wednesday afternoon.

Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, is located on the northern tip of Alaska far above the Arctic Circle.

After 66 days of darkness, the sun rose at 1:04 p.m. AKST on Wednesday with a temperature of minus 8 F and an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of minus 30 F.

first sunrise

The first moments of daylight in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, on Jan. 23, 2019. This webcam is looking north off the coast of the city. (Image/University of Alaska Fairbanks)

alaska sunrise

The sun rises over the ice near Barrow, Alaska, for the first time in 66 days Friday, Jan. 23, 2004. (AP Photo/Earl Finkler)


The reason Utqiaġvik experiences long stretches of darkness in the heart of winter is due to the tilt of the Earth and the city’s close location to the North Pole.

Since the Earth orbits the sun on its axis, the North Pole is pointed away from the sun in the winter, resulting in an extended period of darkness around the Winter Solstice.

The exact opposite occurs during the Summer Solstice, resulting in weeks of constant sunlight in Utqiaġvik from mid-May into early August.

seasonal tilt

Each day in the coming weeks will be noticeably longer than the last, with the city seeing over four hours of sunlight each day by the start of February.

This trend will continue until May 12 when the sun will rise and remain above the horizon until Aug. 2.

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Although people in Utqiaġvik will see some sunlight this week, temperatures are forecast to remain below zero F.

This is not unusual for the city, as the average high temperature in late January is minus 8 F, with overnight temperatures plummeting toward minus 20 F.

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