What It truly is Like to Get the job done in Alaska All through 66 Times of Darkness

  • Utqiaġvik, Alaska is the northernmost city in the US, overlooking the Arctic Ocean. 
  • “Polar night” commences this week, plunging the town’s citizens into 66 days of 24-hour darkness.
  • Nearby business proprietors instructed Insider what it can be like to do the job in the region — from $98 laundry detergent to searching whales. 

When Myron McCumber talks about everyday living in Alaska, he talks in conditions of “the lower 48,” a indicating employed by locals to describe the continental US. 

“Alaskans are likely to be rather independent thinkers,” he informed Insider. “We see ourselves as different from and nonetheless belonging to the United States.”

Myron and his spouse, Susan McCumber, run Latitude 71, a 12-space mattress and breakfast in Utqiagvik, Alaska. Their attendees vary from Brazilian holidaymakers chasing the northern lights to regional oil rig workers.  

Together Utqiagvik’s coast is a welcome indicator that reads “America’s northernmost town” previously mentioned a blue and white illustration of a whale tail. Household to just more than 4,000 folks, Utqiagvik goes by lots of names, together with “the rooftop of the environment” and “ground zero for weather change.”

Setting up this week, the town will enter “polar night time” and plunge into 66 days of 24-hour darkness. With out the sunlight, temperatures drop substantially. Utqiagvik is underneath freezing for 160 days out of the yr. 

While tourists prepare visits all-around the cosmic phenomena, the locals of Utqiagvik proceed their everyday lives, Myron reported — just devoid of the sunshine. 

“It is really dim when you occur household at lunch,” he described. “You change your headlights on at midday to travel household … that would be a minimal various for most persons residing in the decrease 48.”

Calendar year-spherical, jogging a enterprise in Utqiagvik will come with its possess set of worries. Particularly, foods. 

“It really is $14 for a gallon of milk,” Myron instructed Insider. “A box of Tide laundry pods is like $98. A scenario of drinking water that you get from Walmart for $6 — here it is $48.” 

In get to afford to pay for foods for lodge visitors, the McCumbers travel 4 to 5 instances a yr to Anchorage, exactly where groceries are a bit less expensive. The hauls are then saved in Latitude 71’s six freezers and two refrigerators. 

“We carry in 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of food and materials like


toilet paper

,” Myron stated. “An 18-pack of paper towels in this article is $58. In Anchorage, that would be about $24.” 

An aerial view of the arctic ice from above Barrow, Alaska. Officials have sought to protect Barrow, which is fewer than 15 feet above sea level, by moving municipal buildings and lining the coast with berms and sandbags.

“With the sea ice not being here as a lot, we never see the seals and the walrus and the polar bear,” Myron McCumber explained to Insider.

David L. Ryan/The Boston World through Getty Visuals


The majority of North Slope people are Iñupiat Alaska Natives, who have inhabited the polar region for hundreds of a long time. The Iñupiat have traditionally survived the harsh climate through subsistence hunting of whale, caribou, walrus, seal, and fowl.

With grocery rates so high, looking is nevertheless an vital part of dwelling in Utqiagvik. Every single Spring, the community gathers for the duration of “Nalukataq” to celebrate a profitable whale-looking period. 

But local weather adjust has designed hunting more challenging than ever, Myron advised Insider. In 2017, the temperature in Utqiagvik rose so fast that an algorithm flagged the details as “unreal” and taken out it from the government’s databases. 

“With the sea ice not staying here as substantially, we really don’t see the seals and the walrus and the polar bear,” he mentioned. “It really is shifting migration styles for animals and birds — so all of that has a big effects on subsistence hunters, which is a large amount of the populace listed here.”

Most of Utqiagvik is immune to the decreased 48’s commercialization — other than for the local Subway.

“There are 4,500 persons right here and there is certainly only 5 other places to eat,” its owner, John Masterson, instructed Insider, introducing that Subway is the only spot in Utqiagvik whose menu does not include pizza, hamburgers, or Chinese food stuff. 

Irrespective of the point that a foot-long steak and cheese sandwich fees $16.99, Masterson stated the retailer broke “just about every Subway profits history” there was. 

“We marketed around 1,000 sandwiches the to start with day and above nearly 10,000 sandwiches in the initially week,” Masterson said. 

Simonne Stigall

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