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Largest city in Alaska won’t see the sun again until January 23, 2020

“It can be extremely difficult to live here if you’re not from here.”

  • Polar night happens in the City of Utqiaġvik every single year
  • Residents won’t see the sun until late January of 2020
  • Polar night can cause depression which leads to drug abuse and sometimes suicide

Channel 2 Action News’ Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns went on Facebook and informed his followers that the City of Utqiaġvik, the largest in the state of Alaska, will not be seeing the sun until January 23 of next year.

The last time people in Utqiaġvik saw the sun was on November 19. The next sunrise will occur next year.


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This event is called polar night and it usually happens in countries such as Antarctica, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada, and Greenland.

The City of Utqiaġvik only has a little over 4,000 residents, and a good percentage of them are scientists, but are mostly composed of the Iñupiat people, who have lived in the city for more than 1,500 years.

Formerly named as Barrow, Utqiaġvik is also called the city on “the top of the world” since it is located at the top most area in the state of Alaska.

It is only 320 miles of the North Arctic Circle which explains the polar night phenomenon.

People in the city are not fazed by the polar night as this happens every single year.

But Seasonal Affective Disorder can happen, which basically describes a condition where an individual suffers from depression when they don’t get enough light from the sun. These people have to go under light therapy to ease their pain.

Police in the city have reported suicide and substance abuse as the effect of the phenomenon. They also receive calls from time to time getting asked questions such as what day it is, as people lose track of the date because of the sun’s absence.

A cop from Oregon says that visitors will not last long in the city. He himself misses the green color of nature.

Interestingly, during the middle of May, the opposite of polar night happens. The sun rises and doesn’t set for approximately 80 days.

The temperature in the city can also drop to 0 Fahrenheit which makes sense as the weather is not that friendly most of the time. People who go out without wearing proper clothing will experience frostbite in a heartbeat.

It is hard to get to the city as roads are very limited, so to get in, you have to use an airplane.

Residents used to utilize dog sleds to get to travel around the city, some still do but most are using snowmobiles nowadays.

Unfortunately there are only four groceries in the entire town, and food is mostly expensive since they are transported via airplane. What’s even more unfortunate is that not all make it to the shelves, as the temperature alters the form of the food.

Even with all these disadvantages, families are still able to afford living in the city as the median household income is at $83,000. $500 on groceries is normal for people over there.

The majority of the residents have a diet that consists of whale blubber, rice, fish, and sweet rolls.

Almost everything in the city is expensive, from nachos to the price of gas.

Polar night does not mean complete darkness. Civil twilight happens 3 to 6 hours a day which gives off light that enable people to see objects outside.

The city might not be the best place to live in, but locals say that they don’t regret anything.

“I’m glad my kids have graduated from here and have been raised in this community. It’s part of their heritage.”

Tourists come to the city to learn about the natives’ heritage and their history of whaling.

Written by Jo-Est Tan

Emergency medical technician (EMT)
Thesis Writer
Ateneo de Zamboanga University

Contact me at:
[email protected]
09171596675

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