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How to Drive in Alaska’s Weather Conditions

Here's what you need to know...
  • Alaska has unique climate and weather conditions that can be a cause for concern if drivers are not prepared for extreme travel conditions, such as freezing temperatures, wind gusts, ice, and snow
  • Before embarking on any extensive driving in Alaska, you should have an emergency car kit prepared with some survival essentials
  • While there are plenty of paved highway roads in Alaska, drivers should be prepared for extreme temperatures and few roadside accommodations between the months of October through April
  • As with any travel, make sure that you are covered with at least whatever car insurance is required in your state in the event of an accident or extreme weather damage to your car
  • Keep in mind that cell phone service is not always reliable in patches of the Alaska Highway, so make sure that your vehicle is in good working order before going on a road trip through Alaska, especially in winter months

In advance of hitting the road in Alaska, it is prudent to have an idea of the weather conditions during the months that you will be traveling.

From October through April, temperatures can be in the freezing range for most of the day, which means that you need to be prepared with some extra supplies in case of being stuck on the side of the road.

Also, the month of May can be very rainy, so it is important to be ready for adverse driving conditions.

As always, having the proper insurance before you travel can prevent a big financial headache if your car is damaged from extreme weather.

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Introduction to Road and Weather Conditions in Alaska

In general, Alaska really only has four months of moderate temperates and weather conditions, May through September.

In the summer months, temperatures can range between 55° and 70° F on average, but there are also lots of hours of sunlight during those months that can make the day seem even warmer. However, between November through February, the average daily temperatures in Alaska are below freezing.

Driving Tips for Bad Weather in Alaska


– Prep Your Car

The most important preparation for safe driving in Alaska happens before you ever hit the road. One of the most prudent things you can do is have your car inspected so that you can be sure there will not be any major mechanical failures during your trip.

Also, make sure to stash an emergency kit in your car. If you are stuck in bad weather, this could be your lifeline to food and warmth.

– Snow and Ice

If you are driving in snowy or icy conditions in Alaska, try to stay on the Alaska Highway because it is the most well-paved road in winter months. Also, keep a map with you so that you can always be sure of the closest rest stop or gas station if you need supplies.

Take time at each rest stop to clear the snow and ice off of your car and away from the headlights so that you have good visibility.

Be sure to drive at a reasonable speed so that you can react quickly if there is another car on the road. However, do not hit the breaks too hard to slow down for another vehicle because this could cause you to slide out of control on the ice underneath the snow.

– Fog

If you happen to encounter heavy fog on the road, make sure to slow down and keep your low-beam headlights on. Do your best not to stop on the road, and wait to pull over until you are away from incoming traffic.

– Rain

During periods of heavy rain in Alaska, make sure that your windshield wipers are working before you hit the road. Also, try to stay at least six seconds behind the vehicle in front of you at all times.

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What kind of auto insurance will cover you in bad weather?

– Liability

If you are a regular Alaska driver, you probably know that auto insurance is a requirement for driving. If you have a basic auto liability policy, you will be protected from damage that is suffered by another person’s car if you have an accident.

Given the harsh and dangerous weather conditions for most of the year in Alaska, you should consider increasing the limits of your basic auto liability policy so that you are protected from extensive damage that could be sustained in an accident.

– Comprehensive Coverage

Another important type of coverage to have in Alaska is comprehensive insurance. If your car is hit by an object during a period of extreme weather, the damage to your vehicle would be covered by your comprehensive auto policy.

This policy also covers you for damage that is not related to an accident involving another vehicle. In light of the extreme conditions in Alaska, it is a good idea to have above average protection from your comprehensive auto policy.

– Roadside Assistance

You also want to make sure that your auto insurance policy includes roadside assistance.

If you are stranded on the side of the road, you will be able to get immediate assistance with your car, which could prevent you from being injured during freezing temperatures. However, you should always call 911 if there are any injuries or if you are involved in a life-threatening situation.

Experiencing Alaska


Driving through Alaska provides an opportunity to experience some incredible parts of the country and see some amazing views of nature.

However, it is important to take the necessary precautions so that you are not stranded in any extreme weather conditions during your trip.

Make sure that your car is in good working order before you travel and that you have some emergency essentials, such as food, blankets, and water, in your car in case you break down.

If you will require lodging overnight, it is best to make your reservations in advance because not all businesses maintain extended hours.

Comparison Shopping to Find the Best Company

adobestock_117112869-1600x1600Before you sign up for any auto insurance policy, you want to make sure that you are not paying a higher price than you have to.

The best way to look into this is by comparison shopping for rates online. Be sure to submit accurate information on your car and where you are seeking coverage because not all auto insurance companies operate in every state.

This is a good time to check with your auto insurance provider about all of the coverage options that come with the rate you have been quoted. You want to ask all questions now to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on in finding out that you are not covered for a major event down the road.

In addition to questions about the coverage you can get, you should also ask about discounts that each company offers for auto insurance rates.

You might be surprised at how much of a discount that you can qualify for. Just remember to only give truthful information because your failure to do so could result in your policy being canceled or your claim denied by the auto insurance company.

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