Average Weather in Barrow Alaska, United States
In Barrow, the summers are very cold; the winters are long, frigid, dry, and windy; and it is overcast year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from -19°F to 47°F and is rarely below -36°F or above 60°F.
Based on the tourism score, the best time of year to visit Barrow for warm-weather activities is from late July to early August.
The warm season lasts for 3.3 months, from June 5 to September 15, with an average daily high temperature above 36°F. The hottest day of the year is July 27, with an average high of 47°F and low of 36°F.
The cold season lasts for 4.4 months, from November 25 to April 6, with an average daily high temperature below 3°F. The coldest day of the year is January 25, with an average low of -19°F and high of -8°F.
Average High and Low Temperature
The figure below shows you a compact characterization of the entire year of hourly average temperatures. The horizontal axis is the day of the year, the vertical axis is the hour of the day, and the color is the average temperature for that hour and day.
Average Hourly Temperature
Terskol, Russia (4,470 miles away); Tosontsengel, Mongolia (3,381 miles); and McMurdo Station, Antarctica (10,421 miles) are the far-away foreign places with temperatures most similar to Barrow (view comparison).
In Barrow, the average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The clearer part of the year in Barrow begins around May 2 and lasts for 5.2 months, ending around October 8. On June 11, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 30% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 70% of the time.
The cloudier part of the year begins around October 8 and lasts for 6.8 months, ending around May 2. On January 22, the cloudiest day of the year, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy 96% of the time, and clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 4% of the time.
Cloud Cover Categories
A wet day is one with at least 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation. The chance of wet days in Barrow varies throughout the year.
The wetter season lasts 2.9 months, from June 23 to September 18, with a greater than 11% chance of a given day being a wet day. The chance of a wet day peaks at 21% on August 4.
The drier season lasts 9.1 months, from September 18 to June 23. The smallest chance of a wet day is 1% on March 20.
Among wet days, we distinguish between those that experience rain alone, snow alone, or a mixture of the two. Based on this categorization, the most common form of precipitation in Barrow changes throughout the year.
Snow alone is the most common for 7.9 months, from September 30 to May 27. The highest chance of a day with snow alone is 5% on February 19.
Rain alone is the most common for 4.1 months, from May 27 to September 30. The highest chance of a day with rain alone is 21% on August 4.
Daily Chance of Precipitation
To show variation within the months and not just the monthly totals, we show the rainfall accumulated over a sliding 31-day period centered around each day of the year. Barrow experiences some seasonal variation in monthly rainfall.
The rainy period of the year lasts for 2.8 months, from June 20 to September 12, with a sliding 31-day rainfall of at least 0.5 inches. The most rain falls during the 31 days centered around August 4, with an average total accumulation of 1.1 inches.
The rainless period of the year lasts for 9.2 months, from September 12 to June 20. The least rain falls around December 26, with an average total accumulation of 0.0 inches.
Average Monthly Rainfall
The sliding 31-day liquid-equivalent quantity of snowfall in Barrow does not vary significantly over the course of the year, staying within 0.1 inches of 0.1 inches throughout.
Average Liquid-Equivalent Monthly Snowfall
Due to its extreme latitude, Barrow experiences polar day (also known as the midnight Sun) during the summer and polar night during the winter. These are periods of time in which the sun is continuously above or below the horizon for more than one day. The precise start and end dates of polar day and night vary from year to year and depend on the precise location and elevation of the observer, and the local topography.
In the summer in Barrow during 2018, the Sun is continuously above the horizon for 2.7 months, rising at 2:58 AM on May 10, and not setting again until 2:03 AM on August 2.
In the winter in Barrow during 2018, the Sun is continuously below the horizon for 2.1 months, setting at 1:43 PM on November 18, and not rising again until 1:30 PM on January 22.
Hours of Daylight and Twilight
Daylight saving time (DST) is observed in Barrow during 2018, starting in the spring on March 11, lasting 7.8 months, and ending in the fall on November 4.
Sunrise & Sunset with Twilight and Daylight Saving Time
We base the humidity comfort level on the dew point, as it determines whether perspiration will evaporate from the skin, thereby cooling the body. Lower dew points feel drier and higher dew points feel more humid. Unlike temperature, which typically varies significantly between night and day, dew point tends to change more slowly, so while the temperature may drop at night, a muggy day is typically followed by a muggy night.
The perceived humidity level in Barrow, as measured by the percentage of time in which the humidity comfort level is muggy, oppressive, or miserable, does not vary significantly over the course of the year, remaining a virtually constant 0% throughout.
Humidity Comfort Levels
This section discusses the wide-area hourly average wind vector (speed and direction) at 10 meters above the ground. The wind experienced at any given location is highly dependent on local topography and other factors, and instantaneous wind speed and direction vary more widely than hourly averages.
The average hourly wind speed in Barrow experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The windier part of the year lasts for 7.9 months, from September 8 to May 5, with average wind speeds of more than 12.3 miles per hour. The windiest day of the year is January 10, with an average hourly wind speed of 14.1 miles per hour.
The calmer time of year lasts for 4.1 months, from May 5 to September 8. The calmest day of the year is July 1, with an average hourly wind speed of 10.5 miles per hour.
Average Wind Speed
The predominant average hourly wind direction in Barrow is from the east throughout the year.
Barrow is located near a large body of water (e.g., ocean, sea, or large lake). This section reports on the wide-area average surface temperature of that water.
The average water temperature experiences some seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The time of year with warmer water lasts for 2.0 months, from July 23 to September 24, with an average temperature above 34°F. The day of the year with the warmest water is August 23, with an average temperature of 36°F.
The time of year with cooler water lasts for 6.8 months, from November 4 to May 31, with an average temperature below 30°F. The day of the year with the coolest water is January 24, with an average temperature of 29°F.
Average Water Temperature
Best Time of Year to Visit
To characterize how pleasant the weather is in Barrow throughout the year, we compute two travel scores.
The tourism score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit Barrow for general outdoor tourist activities is from late July to early August.
The beach/pool score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 75°F and 90°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit Barrow for hot-weather activities is from late June to early July.
For each hour between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM of each day in the analysis period (1980 to 2016), independent scores are computed for perceived temperature, cloud cover, and total precipitation. Those scores are combined into a single hourly composite score, which is then aggregated into days, averaged over all the years in the analysis period, and smoothed.
Our cloud cover score is 10 for fully clear skies, falling linearly to 9 for mostly clear skies, and to 1 for fully overcast skies.
Our precipitation score, which is based on the three-hour precipitation centered on the hour in question, is 10 for no precipitation, falling linearly to 9 for trace precipitation, and to 0 for 0.04 inches of precipitation or more.
Our tourism temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 50°F, rising linearly to 9 for 65°F, to 10 for 75°F, falling linearly to 9 for 80°F, and to 1 for 90°F or hotter.
Our beach/pool temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 65°F, rising linearly to 9 for 75°F, to 10 for 82°F, falling linearly to 9 for 90°F, and to 1 for 100°F or hotter.
Definitions of the growing season vary throughout the world, but for the purposes of this report, we define it as the longest continuous period of non-freezing temperatures (≥ 32°F) in the year (the calendar year in the Northern Hemisphere, or from July 1 until June 30 in the Southern Hemisphere).
Temperatures in Barrow are sufficiently cold year round that it is not entirely meaningful to discuss the growing season in these terms. We nevertheless include the chart below as an illustration of the distribution of temperatures experienced throughout the year.
Time Spent in Various Temperature Bands and the Growing Season
Growing degree days are a measure of yearly heat accumulation used to predict plant and animal development, and defined as the integral of warmth above a base temperature, discarding any excess above a maximum temperature. In this report, we use a base of 50°F and a cap of 86°F.
Growing Degree Days
This section discusses the total daily incident shortwave solar energy reaching the surface of the ground over a wide area, taking full account of seasonal variations in the length of the day, the elevation of the Sun above the horizon, and absorption by clouds and other atmospheric constituents. Shortwave radiation includes visible light and ultraviolet radiation.
The average daily incident shortwave solar energy experiences extreme seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The brighter period of the year lasts for 2.3 months, from May 7 to July 17, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter above 4.7 kWh. The brightest day of the year is June 10, with an average of 5.9 kWh.
The darker period of the year lasts for 5.7 months, from September 23 to March 15, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter below 1.2 kWh. The darkest day of the year is December 4, with an average of 0.0 kWh.
Average Daily Incident Shortwave Solar Energy
For the purposes of this report, the geographical coordinates of Barrow are 71.291 deg latitude, -156.789 deg longitude, and 3 ft elevation.
The topography within 2 miles of Barrow is essentially flat, with a maximum elevation change of 56 feet and an average elevation above sea level of 13 feet. Within 10 miles is also essentially flat (79 feet). Within 50 miles is essentially flat (108 feet).
The area within 2 miles of Barrow is covered by water (52%), sparse vegetation (21%), grassland (14%), and bare soil (12%), within 10 miles by water (64%) and grassland (20%), and within 50 miles by water (74%) and herbaceous vegetation (10%).
This report illustrates the typical weather in Barrow, based on a statistical analysis of historical hourly weather reports and model reconstructions from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2016.
Temperature and Dew Point
There is only a single weather station, Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport, in our network suitable to be used as a proxy for the historical temperature and dew point records of Barrow.
At a distance of 1 kilometers from Barrow, closer than our threshold of 150 kilometers, this station is deemed sufficiently nearby to be relied upon as our primary source for temperature and dew point records.
The station records are corrected for the elevation difference between the station and Barrow according to the International Standard Atmosphere , and by the relative change present in the MERRA-2 satellite-era reanalysis between the two locations.
Please note that the station records themselves may additionally have been back-filled using other nearby stations or the MERRA-2 reanalysis.
All data relating to the Sun's position (e.g., sunrise and sunset) are computed using astronomical formulas from the book, Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets , by Jean Meeus.
All other weather data, including cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and solar flux, come from NASA's MERRA-2 Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis . This reanalysis combines a variety of wide-area measurements in a state-of-the-art global meteorological model to reconstruct the hourly history of weather throughout the world on a 50-kilometer grid.
Land Use data comes from the Global Land Cover SHARE database , published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Elevation data comes from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) , published by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Names, locations, and time zones of places and some airports come from the GeoNames Geographical Database .
Time zones for aiports and weather stations are provided by AskGeo.com .
Maps are © Esri, with data from National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, NAVTEQ, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, and iPC.
The information on this site is provided as is, without any assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for any purpose. Weather data is prone to errors, outages, and other defects. We assume no responsibility for any decisions made on the basis of the content presented on this site.
We draw particular cautious attention to our reliance on the MERRA-2 model-based reconstructions for a number of important data series. While having the tremendous advantages of temporal and spatial completeness, these reconstructions: (1) are based on computer models that may have model-based errors, (2) are coarsely sampled on a 50 km grid and are therefore unable to reconstruct the local variations of many microclimates, and (3) have particular difficulty with the weather in some coastal areas, especially small islands.
We further caution that our travel scores are only as good as the data that underpin them, that weather conditions at any given location and time are unpredictable and variable, and that the definition of the scores reflects a particular set of preferences that may not agree with those of any particular reader.