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Sun returns to northernmost town in Alaska

February 4, 2019

UTQIAGVIK, Alaska (AP) — Sunshine has returned to the country’s northernmost town following about two months of the sun staying hidden below the horizon.

The first sunrise of the year for Utqiagvik marks the point when winter starts turning toward spring, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported last week.

“When we get the sun back it’s a completely different atmosphere,” resident Malcolm Noble said. “You see people’s faces light up. You just want to step outside.”

In late January, a thumbnail of neon pink starts inching above the horizon, shedding light on the flat, frozen tundra to make a dramatic entrance.

The Chukchi Sea community formerly known as Barrow is gaining minutes of sunlight each day. The town will hit the other extreme by May, with 24 hours of daylight that lasts until August.

Robin Mongoyak, who has lived in Utqiagvik for 49 years, recently drove to the edge of town to get an unimpeded view of the afternoon sun.

Mongoyak said this winter was the first time the darkness has deeply affected him. But when the sun came back, he said he was reminded that the “best days of sunshine” are right around the corner.

“Life is going to spring back to us,” Mongoyak said. “Spring is coming, summer is around the corner. Birds when they come in big flocks, it’s like thousands of people coming to greet us.”

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