The Arctic Sounder

Polar night came to Utqiagvik

Utqiagvik saw its last sunrise Saturday before the polar night began.

The sun will rise again in the northernmost city of the U.S. in 65 days, on Jan. 23.

The civil twilight will slightly light up the Utqiagvik skies for several hours a day, about six hours now and three hours on winter solstice, said Rick Thoman, a climate and weather expert with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

“The sun is still 4.5º below the horizon so if it’s cloudy it’s pretty dim,” Thoman said.

When the sun returns to the town of over 4,000 people, the community usually celebrates the first sunrise with traditional dancing.

[From 2023: Utqiaġvik residents greet the return of the sun with traditional dance]

Due to refraction, only places north of about 45 miles north of the Arctic Circle have one or more days with no sunrise, Thoman said. That includes all North Slope communities, Kivalina and Noatak in the Northwest Arctic Borough and such places in the Interior like Wiseman and Arctic Village have one or more day with no sunrise.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.