Alaskan vs. Minnesotan Winters

Alaskan vs. Minnesotan Winters

It’s April.

My tiny hometown in Minnesota just had a blizzard and was dumped on by snow. My current place of residence, Fairbanks, AK still has about a foot of snow in our yard, despite not having snowed in weeks. I wonder what it’s like to actually experience April showers and April flowers. Maybe one day I’ll find out. For now, I’m just an unofficial expert on two of the coldest locations in the United States.

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But what location really experiences the worst winters?

Well, from a completely unscientific, non-meteorologist, experience-only point of view, here’s my breakdown:

Length of Winter

Alaska wins, hands down. Despite Minnesota’s sporadic snowfalls in late April or early May, the temperatures usually warm up significantly right after that last snow and everything melts in a matter of days. Fairbanks winters start early and drag on…and on. We’ve had mid 30’s during the day and single temperatures overnight for almost the past 6 weeks. With hardly any budge in temperature.

Snow Fall

Minnesota, this is all you. This year I was told we got a little bit more snow than normal and it was maybe a foot and a half total? I’ve seen feet upon feet of snow in good ol’ Minne growing up. This year in particular, they had more snow than I can remember in the past five years. Fairbanks completely dries up after January, and we see almost no precipitation between now and June.

Temperature

I saw -48 degrees with no wind chill this year in Fairbanks. My mind was actually blown. It was ridiculously cold. So cold my car hardly started even after being plugged in at all times for weeks on end. The oil literally freezes solid at around -30. All cars have to be winterized in Fairbanks and there were weekends in December and January where I was willing to do pretty much anything that didn’t involve having to step foot outside. Alaska takes the cake for temperature. I think the coldest I’d ever seen in Minnesota was -25.

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Don’t even get me started on “ice fog” in Fairbanks…

Darkness

Ugh, Alaska. Probably one of my least favorite parts of winter. It was annoying enough in Minnesota where it got down to 7-8 hours on the worst days. We missed the shortest day of the year this year in Fairbanks due to spending Christmas in Alabama, but the day we left, we were at about 2.5 hours of sunlight. It felt like living in a scary movie at all times. No, I’ve never watched 30 days of night. I never will after living here.

Wind Chill 

MINNESOTA. I completely forgot about the miserable Minnesota wind chill until I went to visit in March and couldn’t stop whining about it. Fairbanks is in a large valley that hardly ever gets wind chill. Two days this entire winter I recall it feeling “windy”. Every other day was just a “still” cold. Minnesota has air that hurts your face and your legs and your soul. Walking to class in college would leave me with beat red thighs and crying eyes thanks to the wind.

Worse Winter? 

Such a toss up, and I’d have to say they tie for equally miserable, but completely different reasons. Alaska’s darkness is not the least bit enjoyable. It makes taking Vitamin D and getting outside during bleak hours of sunlight essential to prevent insanity. I don’t get seasonal depression, but I couldn’t imagine anyone who did being able to live in Fairbanks.

Minnesota? Minnesota wins for being colder. No matter how low that temperature gets in Fairbanks, the air doesn’t move, so if you bundle absolutely everything, you’ll be okay. Minnesota’s cold is the most unforgiving kind of cold, with the wind tearing apart any happiness you have. I can’t even imagine living in North Dakota…

So there you have it. My take on winter in two of the coldest places in the United States. You may or may not be able to tell, but I’m so ready to not experience a 6+ month winter for the first time in my life. The next place we’re stationed, I don’t care if rains 300 days of the year or has hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If it stays above freezing the majority of the year and sees minimal snowfall, I’ll be the happiest, most shocked girl in the world.

I’m going to go turn up the heat in my house and pretend there’s not snow on the ground today, April 5th. But not before I leave you with five ridiculously good songs from my newest acoustic playlist on Spotify. What is it about the perfect mellow playlist that brings out inspiration, feelings, and a dreaming heart? A big shout out to “Life Unexpected” (and me marathoning it until 4 AM last night) for all of these musical choices.

1. Beautiful Tree by Rain Perry
2. You Got Growin’ Up To Do by Joshua Radin
3. Can’t Go Back Now by The Weepies
4. Family Name by Peter Bradley Adams
5. Here We Go by Mat Kearney

 

 

 

 

 

No Comments
  • Alison V. says:

    Ugg, this post made me so depressed about moving to Wisconsin when my husband gets out of the military. I’ve been so spoiled by living in CA my whole life, and the last 7 years in San Diego. My sister-in-law posted a picture today and there was new snow on the ground in WI! In April!

    • camillemae says:

      Oh my goodness. I am so sorry. Going from California to Wisconsin has to be a HUGE change. No chance you’ll end up moving by your family?? Yeah Wisco is usually a little more tolerable than Minne, but it’s still the upper Midwest….

      I am hoping, wishing, and praying I have put in my time in tundras and our next duty station has little to no snow!

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