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90 Miles from the Canadian Border on the Alaska HIghway

And For Those Who Need Proof…Minus 80 Degrees F

This is a shot of the weather station temp gauge at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge offices in Tok, Alaska.


I’m still looking for a thermometer for the house that will register lower than -60 degrees. Any ideas?

61 Responses to “And For Those Who Need Proof…Minus 80 Degrees F”

  1. Mark W says:


    145 degree difference between outside and inside…!

  2. John Hagen says:

    It has been a couple years since I have seen it but I know Ivory Jacks in Fairbanks sells -100F thermometers. I suspect they aren’t the only ones.


  3. Fabian says:

    Please read what the National Weather Service had to say about Tok’s recent temperature. Please get your facts straight. Thanks!

  4. Ed says:

    The Davis Vantage Pro 2 temperature sensor is only designed to read correctly down to -50F (-45C). When the temperature drops below -50F the sensor will begin to give erroneous readings. I have seen this occur with several of these stations I have installed across northern AK. See the sensor specification documentation.

  5. U. Nobody says:

    Brrr. That is freakin cold. It was 63 degrees in Missouri today.

  6. Dana says:

    Gosh….cold is COLD! I’m thinking Fabian is a little competitive! LOL

  7. Dennis Jeffers says:

    Don’t forget the propane! We use it in our kitchen stoves. At -40 degrees(C or F who cares!)it goes back to liquid and one needs to take a hair dryer and warm up the tank a bit. Maybe throw a blanket over it. No problem. Its all good.

  8. Al Gore should move there. That way we can pry the Nobel Prize from his dead, frozen hands.

  9. From the North East US says:

    Fabian: I guess only in Alaska could someone get bent out of shape because someone thought it was 80 below instead of 60 below… I dont see that much difference at this point

  10. ross says:

    I’m writing from Maui where there is a 160 degree swing! I can’t fathom that. Stay as warm as possible and come visit for a thaw when possible

  11. Are you sure that reading is accurate? This would tie the official all-time low for Alaska of -80 at Prospect Creek Camp in January 1971:

    Back then, Fairbanks went down to -59:

    But this year Fairbanks is “only” -47, although 38 years ago the urban heat island effect could have been less.

    But regardless of whether it’s -40, -60 or -80, I literally can’t imagine it; the coldest I’ve ever experienced is “only” -25.

    • What my husband explained is that he was told that the National Weather Service does not have a certified weather station in Tok so have never really gotten accurate readings, especially with the great variances that can occur in temps from mile to mile. They may be monitoring Tok in other ways, however, it also depends where in Tok they are monitoring. There are definitely folks who are registering warmer temps and others who are registering colder, and we’re all just a few miles apart.

      I’d also put in some variances in thermometer quality and maybe some might even have calibration issues if they can be calibrated. But Tokites pretty much agree that National Weather Service has yet to get it right and Wunderground, while so much closer to what we’re all seeing with our own eyes, has lots of variances between the three main weather stations reporting in the area to their site.

  12. pobept says:

    If it’s colder than -60, do your really need to knot the tempture, it’s really cold, to me thats all I would need to know :)

  13. JAMES KELLER says:

    1) catalog number is 11-716-186C.

    • James – that is a good question about the water pipes – I’ll have to ask around. Thanks for the info on the thermometers! Someone else asked why care, especially after 60 below. Heck, it is part curiosity, part fun fodder for blogs and conversation!

    • Kaye Baker says:

      Heat tape wrapped around the pipes does a pretty good job as long as you don’t lose power, we seldom had our pipes freeze.

  14. I think we can forget about that house swap idea – with my little beach home in Cape Town :P

    Or maybe I can make it a business??!! Have friends??

    • Oh Alanagh, we should have done the house swap while we were still in Anchorage. However, summers in Tok are supposed to be lovely which is winter in S.A. so that still isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Let’s keep the dream alive!

  15. Aliza,

    I believe what your husbands saying… there are many places that can vary greatly in temp. Even if your thermometer were off by 10* or even 30* that’s still D-A-M-N cold. How do you manage to keep your house warm without going broke?

    The coldest I’ve been in was about -25 (upstate NY) and the oil burner couldn’t keep the house warmer than 45* (it was extremely windy which didn’t help matters, I believe they said with the windchill factor it felt like -45 or so).

    Stay Warm!

  16. Wow, definitely cold… I thought we were experiencing global warming.. :)

  17. Aliens In Tok says:

    Ehhh, I don’t buy it for a minute. It doesn’t FEEL any colder than -62F give or take a couple a deg’s. It hasn’t gotten that cold since the winter of ’89, or ’82…..Oh heck, they all blend together!

  18. Frozen Wazoo says:

    FYI to all:
    the OFFICIAL Tok weather station keeper of the temperature is Don Marshall who lives on the east side of town out past the Mushers Hall. Ask him. Anybody else is just blowin’ smoke…( er, frost)

  19. Rick Thoman says:

    Correction: The Weather Service HAS maintained a cooperative weather station in Tok since the 1950s. The low in this cold snap (thus far) has been -63F. There is a another National Weather Service cooperative site at the DOT station in Tok, where the low has been -61F. The low at Northway has been -61F. The low at Chicken has been -66F. The Davis weather stations, or most any home thermometers are not designed or calibrated to read accurately at these extreme temperatures.

    • Well, the thermometer at Tetlin’s main office isn’t a home one – it is one of those high priced, high tech weather stations (VantagePro2 – visible in the photo). But hey, what’s a few degrees up or down? It is ALL cold.

  20. Frozen Wazoo says:

    Regarding the official Tok weather keeper: Don Marshall is the Poet Laureate of Tok, with numerous published books to his name. I dunno if he posts the wx obs to any particular sites, but you can always give him a call- look him up in the local pages….

  21. Rick Thoman says:

    Yes, the Vantage Pro2 is Davis Instrument’s top of the line model. Davis only claims the temperature is accurate to 40 below, though they seem to be good into the -50s before the temperature drops off the cliff.

  22. hehe – we need one of those thermometers from Antarctica or Siberia to get some more accurate readings, Rick! No matter how you slice it, this ain’t bikini weather.

  23. Shmoe The Plumber says:

    james, about the pipes-
    up here, insulation is a good thing. Heat tape’s even better if you have electricity. There’s no substitute for some serious BTU’s in the crawl space. Keep the faucets dripping a bit and you’re all set, no worries.

  24. Rick Thoman says:

    Some background on the WxUnderground website might be of interest: WxUnderground collects weather data from a number of publicly available sources and has a way for anyone with compatible weather stations/software/web connection to ftp their own home data directly to them. There is no QC of any of the data. Nonetheless, a highly useful resource, especially in Alaska where weather data is comparatively limited and widely spaced.

  25. Far Out says:

    Even a better wx site:
    It’s been consistently more accurate, for professionals, I reckon.

  26. AKBEAR says:

    Most of the gift shops up here sell spirit filled thermometers that register from 100 below to 120 above. If you can’t find any here, then try calling Sentry Hardware in North Pole, they usually stock one.

  27. Suzanne says:

    Try the radio station in Barrow. Their promotional items include a great thermometer that goes to way low. Talk to Earl. He’s my hero. Makes me little heart go pitty pat. Tell him Suzanne said hi.

  28. Ken Woods says:

    I’m also interested as to how you’re getting a vantage pro2 to register lower than -40ish.

    I’ve got three of them installed around fairbanks, and they all roughly stop reading at -40.

    That’s one that’s currently showing a drop out at -39.3

    I’d be interested to know what version of firmware you’re running in the VP2, as well as the firmware on the tmp/hum sensor.

    It’s also interesting that Rick mentions QC’ing data: Phil Gladstone does checking, (but I know that Rick knows that!)

  29. Alaskan says:

    I’ve been driving from Anchorage to Tok for over 10 years…….its only about a 5 to at most a 6 hour drive.

    -80…possible, but consistent -30 to -50 can be normal. Also depends on where one lives in Tok as well.

    As for helping with a topic…….and since it seems you are new to Tok……here is one for you. Go outside after you have brewed some coffee. Then take a full cup, throw it up in the air and watch in amazement has it just turns into smoke.



    • Well, we drove from Anchorage to Tok on Dec 21 (shortest day of the year, mind you) and it took us 8 hours. We stopped in GlenAllen for about an hour. Granted, he was pulling a big camper trailer and I was pulling an ATV trailer. Plus the roads were very icy part of the way, foggy part of the way, then dark. I’ve heard people make it in 5-6 hours but they really haul butt.

  30. Rick Thoman says:

    Yes, CWOP and MADIS does some QC, though only to flag data it “thinks” is a problem. The WxUnderground software that gathers the data from various sources does not do any QC

  31. Candis says:


  32. Ken Woods says:

    also, just FYI, the davis stuff is not a “high priced, high tech weather station”

    It’s marketed and designed for home users.

    It’s good for remote sites, when you want trending information, or when you want easy data transmissions.

    It’s not accurate……

  33. Rick Thoman says:

    I agree, though they do okay in “normal” conditions with the equipment properly exposed (the more usual problem).

  34. Ken Woods says:

    Rick, very true, you’ve got an excellent point.

    I came across one in Goldstream that was mounted on the side of a cabin next to the exhaust of a toyo/monitor. The guy was curious as to why his house was typically 10-15 degrees warmer than his neighbor.

    Anyway, I’ve found that people tend to get emotional when you tell them (via calibrated instruments) that the temperature that they *think* they’re seeing is in fact inaccurate.

    I’ve been asking people to go into Freddies and check the wall o’ thermometers. When they’re faced with 15 identical models that all show vastly different temps, they begin to understand.

    I’ve forwarded this post to Davis–it should be interesting to get their response on the -80 report, either officially or unofficially.

  35. WDB says:

    I have only 1 question. Why did you choose to live there?

    I lived in Northern Minnesota and have experienced -45, much lower if you count the windchill, I can’t imagine anyone voluntarily moving to anywhere colder.

  36. Ian Herriott says:


    Fun blog.

    Personally, I left Fairbanks last week, heading for warmer climes for a bit…you’ve certainly got the coldest snap by many metrics that I’ve seen in my 6 years in the Interior…

    If you have an extra $5 next time you’re in Fairbanks, hit the Fox General Store just outa town and get one of their little alcohol thermometers that say “Happiness is 100 below in Alaska.” It goes to -100F. Is it accurate? I dunno. Is it fun? Yes.

  37. MEKUS says:

    Hi :) all I’ve just read this post in web in polish news :> now is some about – 10 in north west Poland … 2 days ago it was something about – 30 cel in my country… HF :D in TOK :)

  38. Ken Woods says:

    Aliza: can you find out what version of the firmware that station is running?

  39. Rick Thoman says:

    Ken, RE firmware: I left you a message at your work.

  40. Ken Woods says:

    Got it. Thanks. We’ll see what he’s got to say!

  41. Johannes says:

    How can the humidity be 38% when the temp is so low?

  42. Hey, let’s all concede that none of our temp tools are 100% accurate all the time. There should always be a margin for error expected. I just thought this was an amazing display of cold temps so posted it. I have another photo showing -71 on the same device the day before. And others saw -65. My home thermometer showed past -60 same day.

    Also just found out from someone who is .8 miles away from us that she has noted about a 10 degree difference between her house (where she has 2 digital thermometers) and ours (she used to know the folks who live here). Our area is the colder one. So today we show -30 and she shows -20.4.

  43. Michel says:

    So, it’s finally warming up. We’re still at about -45 up here in Circle. Can’t wait until we see -20 or better. Supposed to be a Chinook headed our way. On the NWS it says we are supposed to be 20 to 30 above here in a few days. Break out the shorts!

    I just use a digital thermometer on our house, it is generally pretty accurate. When we go look at the thermometer at the airstrip it is usually about 5 degrees cooler than what ours reads at home, probably because of heat off of the house.

    Enjoy the warm-up. We’ll still probably have another of these snaps before March, hopefully just not as long of one.

  44. Good grief that is so effing cold. Closest I’ve experienced was -40 while living in Glasgow, Montana. From where I’m living now in Pa. our 29 degrees seems downright balmy compared to what you’se are seeing there.
    Great hot cocoa weather I bet, though it probably would freeze in a couple of minits if one tried to drink it outside.

  45. Eau D' Castor says:

    Ey Michel, it’s warming up- better go check your line pronto, or yer gonna find a bunch of fur missing! I watched a nice crossfox munch a rabbit in my front yard yesterday ! (Tok)

  46. Patrick Armstrong says:

    211K (which is how God measures temperature) is getting close to the bottom.
    You need heat immediately!
    Put in a call for Algore to give his lecture!
    That should raise the temperature by 80K+

  47. Kelvin says:

    We are hoping that it gets down to -273K and really clean out some of the cosmonauts who live here just for the Permanent Fund Dividends!

  48. Igoretas says:

    OOOOHHH ¡¡-80 ºF!!

    And I tought that the +10 ºF (-10ºC) registred on my home weather station in The Basque Country (Spain) was a very very cold day…

    Alaskan people must be made from a diferent material
    Have a nice day

  49. Kathy Olding says:

    I just happened across this blog and found it interesting to say the least. I am a resident of Tok now for 45 years and have seen all the weather that can be thrown at us.

    To the person who said to throw coffee (or water) in the air at those temps and it goes into smoke.. I have YET to find this to be true!!! I have tried it almost every year at the coldest temps and it just falls to the ground WET until it hits the ground :( Im bummed.

    Secondly, if anyone is driving the speed limit (like good people that obey the law should do) going to Anchorage on a summer day in good weather takes approx 6.5 hrs..on a bad day 7 hrs……. ok? so someone needs to be practicing safe and legal driving speeds (smile)

    One way I know if its colder than normal cold is how long my dogs stay out to go potty… (smile)

    I love my woodstove in temps like that.. nothing more cozy than a hot woodstove to stand by and warm up to if you’ve been outside for very long.

    I was walking a 3 mi block with my dogs fairly regularly down to -50º ..when my normally soft snow pants starts to make crinkly cracky sounds I know its pretty cold and I stay home after that (smile)

    And they don’t make those sounds until it is -50 or colder.

    Take care!


  50. Foxtrotter says:

    Found the ideas listed here interesting to say the least.
    I think that Kathy has the best handle on conditions, including legalities involved in getting from Tok to Anchorage at lead foot speeds.
    I have found that wood stoves work well all winter long. I do have two Toyo stoves but do not use either one of them unless I plan on being out of town for extended periods of time.
    I don’t believe that this winter has been as cold yet, as previous years, I am thinking that all I have seen at the house this year is -60 F. In past years colder.
    I know that Powerade does pretty good about not freezing to bad, until you break the seal, then you need to put it in the engine compartment of the snow machine.

  51. Kt in Tok Ak says:

    I have operated a Davis Vantage Pro in Tok for 10-12 years now, with Weatherlink 5.8.0 software. The National Weather Service has come to my site (visits about once a year) and certified my system as accurate. At any temperature. They have told me that Davis doesn’t claim accuracy at -40 or colder because they are not TESTED in those conditions, not because the are inaccurate. They use my data to formulate weather forecasts for the 40-mile area of interior Alaska.

    My weather station is identical to the one in this site’s photo, other than my anemometer is at 30 feet. Their thermometer readings are just about identical with mine, and we are perhaps a half-mile apart.

    I am a certified weather spotter and observer volunteer for the National Weather Service, a member of the Citizen’s Weather Observers Coop, and my station feeds to Wunderground, NWS, CWOP and MADIS. (I am a weather geek)

    Lots of people around this area get colder readings than I do on spirit thermometers, and I believe they are accurate also. It is not uncommon for a 10-15 degree variance in our area mostly because of terrain.

    If you look in the history for our area, you will see it indeed gets very very cold.

    Tok is a very special place, not for the faint-hearted. Many of us appreciate the extreme winters because it keeps the population from growing… ;p


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