By DAN JOLING
ANCHORAGE — Cynthia Erickson woke up early, hoping her four furnaces were working.
She owns a grocery store and the building that houses the post office in the village of Tanana, Alaska, which ranked as the coldest place in the state Wednesday. The official temperature at the airport with a single gravel runway was minus 54 degrees. Nearby, along the Yukon River, it was 5 degrees colder.
“Fifty-nine below on Front Street in Tanana, Alaska,” she said, laughing. “It’s just miserable. I hate everybody who lives in a warm place.”
A cold snap gripping interior Alaska is bothering even longtime residents such as Erickson. She didn’t see a customer until 25 minutes after she opened her store, where the furnace was operating despite the cold.
“I’m good because I watch the temperatures and prepare in advance,” she said. “Last week I got my stock in. I’m good. I’m not a last-minuter. Living your whole life in Alaska for 53 years, you’ve got to think ahead.”
Planes were not flying in the village 130 miles west of Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city. The cold also kept cars off the road, Erickson said. People instead were walking, bundled up like the little brother in the movie “A Christmas Story.”
She’s hoping for a break in the weather — perhaps a balmy minus 20. Temperatures are forecast to remain cold into Friday.
“I want to leave,” she said. “My teeth are frozen to my lips.”
A very cold, low-pressure trough moved into Alaska from Siberia, said Christopher Cox, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.
“The western Interior has been experiencing the 40s and 50s below for the last couple of days,” he said. “Here in Fairbanks, we’ve had some clouds that protect us. The clouds parted yesterday afternoon, and the temperatures have plummeted.”
Fairbanks International Airport reached minus 50 Wednesday, the first time since Jan. 29, 2012, Cox said.