Alaska Climate Research Center

The Alaska State Climate Center
The Alaska State Climate Center
The Alaska State Climate Center
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December in Fairbanks

While the contiguous United States experiences abnormally high temperatures this month, another round of bitterly cold temperatures is in store for the Interior of Alaska.   Temperatures in the 30s and 40s below zero Fahrenheit occur during this time of year, however, Fairbanksans may be wondering how recent low temperatures compare to the norm.

From the NCEI’s 1991-2020 Climate Normals dataset, the monthly mean temperature for December in Fairbanks is -4.3°F, making it the second coldest month on average.  The highest December monthly mean temperature is 9°F (2017) and the lowest is -28.1°F (1956).  The range of daily highs and lows is even larger: the highest daily maximum temperature on record for the month is 58°F, which occurred on December 5, 1934, and the lowest daily minimum temperature is -62°F, recorded on December 28 and 29 of 1961.

Frequency of Very Warm Days and Very Cold Nights 
  Mean Max
Daily Max ≥ 32°F 1


(1934, 1960, 1985)

Daily Min ≤ -40°F 3


(1933, 1961, 1964)

Frequency values are calculated for the period 1929-2020 at the Fairbanks International Airport.

How frequent are daily temperatures in Fairbanks very warm or very cold in December?  From 1929 to 2020, low temperatures at or below -40°F occurred more often on average than high temperatures at or above freezing.  Also, the maximum recorded number of days at or below -40°F is more than double those at or above freezing during the month.  In the past decade, the average number of very warm days and very cold nights was about 2 days, with 0-1 days per month with lows of -40°F or below (except for 2012, with 10 days) and 0-4 days with highs of 32°F or higher.

Number of days Tmin ≤ -40°F: 1929-2020
Number of Days Tmax ≥ 32°F: 1929-2020 

Source: ACIS

To view more extreme records or climate normals, check out our Data page.