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Fairbanks: Born To Be Mild

Tundra. Glaciers. Twenty-four-hour-long days. These are some of the images that come to mind when someone in "the lower-48" thinks about Alaska. And given the severe weather conditions in that part of the country, one might assume that weathermen at Alaskan TV stations would be on-call 24/7. However, in Fairbanks, a city of about 32,000 located in central Alaska, there just isnât much action.

"It's pretty straight up," said Michael Rogers, meteorologist at KFXF, a Fox affiliate in Fairbanks, regarding the weather patterns in his city. "You know what you're getting into in Fairbanks, versus a lot of the other communities." Michael Shultz, meteorologist at KTVF, the NBC affiliate in Fairbanks, concurs. "The updates are really not that critical here. The weather does not change that quickly once you get a pattern established."

That's because, according to Shultz, Fairbanks is located in a valley between two major mountain ranges, the Alaska and the Brooks. Those land masses usually shield the city from some of the more severe weather visited upon Fairbanks' neighbors. "The only time we get any really cold air is when there is a high pressure system to the northwest of us, and the clockwise flow eventually pushes the cold air over us," he said.

To Alaskans, "cold" is 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit...below zero. Therefore, weather updates are a pretty routine affair in the city. Rogers gives his reports during KFXF newscasts at 5, 6, and 11 p.m. Shultz reported a similar schedule. KTVF and KFXF do not offer any other type of weather information service to their viewers. ABC affiliate KATN however, does provide links to the Federal Aviation Administration's Alaskan weather cameras ( on its website. Not that weather patterns can't shift in Fairbanks. Roger always emphasizes to his viewers that a given weather pattern can be subject to change. ãWeâll see a forecast pattern, but it may just turn a different scale. That's why I always say something Îcould be subject to change.ä

Mostly though, as Rogers put it, "People here know it gets cold." Viewers are concerned about patterns of daylight throughout the year more than anything else. In Fairbanks, daylight starts decreasing at the end of June. The pattern continues until December 21, the "shortest" day of the year, when there are only 3 and 1/2 hours of daylight. After December 21, the amount of daylight starts increasing again. By mid-March, Fairbanks residents will see about 12 hours of daylight. The ãlongestä day is on June 21, when there are about 22 hours of daylight.