breakup season in fairbanks, alaska

breakup season fairbanks alaska

That sounds super dramatic, doesn’t it? “Breakup season.” That literally puts images and thoughts in your head of a messy breakup that leaves you in an absolute mess of a puddle. The term, “breakup season,” has a different meaning in Alaska – particularly in the interior – though. It’s a season that’s messy, filled with ups and downs, and leaves you both hopeful for the future and absolutely reeling in the present. It’s breakup season in Fairbanks, Alaska, my friends, and it’s our first one here.

What is Breakup Season?

Breakup season, quite literally, is the season where all the ice and snow begins to break up and give way to the frozen ground below. It’s the very first hint of spring that we get, and it’s absolutely the best and worst of times. We were told when we moved here that spring and fall in Alaska are sort of “shoulder seasons” because they don’t last too long. Y’all. I beg to differ. Breakup season feels eternal.

Spring in Alaska is moody. We have fool’s spring, second winter, spring of deception, third winter, and eventually all those little teasers give way to a proper breakup season in Fairbanks, Alaska. I can confidently state that the roads are officially clear, including those in our neighborhood. The hardpack is gone. The trails are almost completely clear. Spring is veeerrrryyy slowly winning out over our first long winter in Fairbanks.

fairbanks alaska

breakup season fairbanks alaska

fairbanks alaska

What Spring is Like in Alaska

Unlike the rest of the lower 48, which is beginning to bask in sunnier days and gorgeous blossoms all around, we have no flowers yet to be seen. Throughout April and May, winter and spring sort of war with each other, which leads to a season of mud puddles, soggy grass, and an overall sort of brown scene.

Even though the earth looks brown though, our daylight increases. We have more blue skies (and quite a bit more wind), the swans and geese return, the river is running again, and the moose seem to have vacated the neighborhoods since they can’t cross the river anymore. The days are longer – much longer, and though we’re still a ways out from the later “green-up,” the days feel downright springy.

breakup season in alaska

breakup season fairbanks alaska

Our First Breakup Season in Fairbanks, Alaska

This first breakup season has been a wild ride thus far. It’s like a proper weather whiplash. One day, you’ll wake up and it’s 20F and snowing. The next, the sun is shining and it’s 40F. The coldest parts of winter in Fairbanks have made it so that these 30ish days feel downright warm though, and we find ourselves without jackets and snow boots most days, quickly trading them for mud boots and rain suits.

We’ve been pulling out our camp chairs and enjoying late-day sun in the neighborhood after sports, and the kids are on their bikes again most days. It’s sort of like that promise of spring is very slowly being fulfilled, and after a long, really hard winter, it feels good. Today, the sun rose 6:09 AM, and it will set at 9:30 PM, giving us ample daylight to soak up all the fresh air that’s yet to come.

Best of all though, we’re starting to get excited. We get home from sports and head back outside. Solo stoves are out, and people seem to be enjoying this little gasp of fresh air before the green-up happens and mosquitoes arrive. We’re ready, folks!