- Utqiaġvik, Alaska, is the northernmost town in the US, overlooking the Arctic Ocean.
- Polar evening begins this week, plunging the town’s residents into 66 days of 24-hour darkness.
- Business enterprise owners instructed Insider what it’s like to function in the area — such as $98 laundry detergent.
When Myron McCumber talks about life in Alaska, he talks in conditions of “the reduce 48,” a stating employed by locals to explain the continental US.
“Alaskans are likely to be rather unbiased thinkers,” he told Insider. “We see ourselves as different from and continue to belonging to the United States.”
Myron McCumber and his spouse, Susan, run Latitude 71, a 12-room bed and breakfast in Utqiagvik, Alaska. Their attendees array from Brazilian tourists chasing the northern lights to area oil-rig staff.
Together Utqiagvik’s coastline is a welcome indicator that states “America’s northernmost town” earlier mentioned a blue-and-white illustration of a whale tail. Residence to just extra than 4,000 folks, Utqiagvik goes by a lot of names, including “the rooftop of the globe” and “floor zero for local weather modify.”
Setting up this 7 days, the city will enter polar evening and plunge into 66 days of 24-hour darkness. Without the need of the sunlight, temperatures drop substantially. Utqiagvik is underneath freezing for 160 times out of the year.
Although vacationers strategy visits all over the cosmic phenomena, the locals of Utqiagvik continue their day by day lives, McCumber explained — just without the need of the sunlight.
“It is darkish when you arrive property at lunch — you switch your headlights on at midday to drive dwelling,” he claimed, including: “That would be a tiny different for most people residing in the reduced 48.”
Calendar year-spherical, running a company in Utqiagvik comes with its individual set of problems. Particularly, food stuff.
“It is really $14 for a gallon of milk,” Myron told Insider. “A box of Tide laundry pods is like $98. A circumstance of water that you get from Walmart for $6 — in this article it can be $48.”
To manage foods for lodge company, the McCumbers journey 4 to five moments a yr to Anchorage, the place groceries are a bit cheaper. The hauls are then saved in Latitude 71’s six freezers and two fridges.
“We carry in 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of foodstuff and materials like
,” Myron claimed. “An 18-pack of paper towels right here is $58. In Anchorage, that would be about $24.”
Most North Slope citizens are Iñupiat Alaska Natives, who have inhabited the polar region for hundreds of many years. The Iñupiat have traditionally survived the harsh climate via subsistence searching of whale, caribou, walrus, seal, and fowl.
With grocery prices so superior, hunting is nevertheless an essential section of dwelling in Utqiagvik. Every spring, the community gathers in the course of Nalukataq to rejoice a profitable whale-looking time.
But the local weather crisis has designed hunting more difficult than at any time, Myron informed Insider. In 2017, the temperature in Utqiagvik rose so rapid that an algorithm flagged the knowledge as “unreal” and removed it from the government’s databases.
“With the sea ice not remaining below as significantly, we never see the seals and the walrus and the polar bear,” he stated. “It’s switching migration patterns for animals and birds — so all of that has a massive affect on subsistence hunters, which is a large amount of the populace in this article.”
Most of Utqiagvik is immune to the lower 48’s commercialization — besides for the area Subway.
“There are 4,500 persons below, and there is only 5 other places to eat,” its proprietor, John Masterson, advised Insider, including that Subway was the only area in Utqiagvik whose menu didn’t incorporate pizza, hamburgers, or Chinese food items.
Even even though a footlong steak-and-cheese sandwich charges $16.99, Masterson mentioned the retail store broke “each and every Subway profits record” there was.
“We bought about 1,000 sandwiches the to start with working day and about pretty much 10,000 sandwiches in the to start with 7 days,” Masterson stated.