View our weather application and links to other weather resources below:

Poker Flat Research Range
Cold Weather Policy

Jan 5, 2019


The Cold Weather Policy for the Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR), a facility of the Geophysical Institute–University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is for the purpose of providing to all Range users and personnel the operating procedures, closure policy, and safety guidelines for those working and using the Range facilities. This Policy is effective Sep 1 to May 1 and is to be updated each January or sooner as necessary.


The PFRR is located 30 miles north of Fairbanks and is accessed via the Route 6 - Steese Hwy. The highway is paved with 4 lanes to Fox, and 2 lanes from Fox to PFRR. It transits Cleary Summit at 2,000 ft. elevation, and is a 45 min. drive from town to the Range. The highway is maintained by the State of Alaska, Dept. of Transportation. Snowplowing, sanding, & maintenance take place regularly and as needed.

Inclement winter weather, poor visibility, low temperatures, high winds/wind chill, animals, and other vehicles all contribute to hazardous driving conditions to, from, and on the Range. Lack of attention to weather, road conditions, transport vehicle, and personal preparation can result in an accident, breakdown, frostbite, hypothermia, and possibly death. The following preventative actions by Range users are required.



Travel to/from in a caravan with other co-workers in very cold weather. If possible, car pool with others.
If you travel alone call the Range and advise you are driving and when you will arrive. 907-455-2110 Plan at least 45 min. each way. First time visitors, ask for directions.
Check the PFRR weather Note: the official temperature at PFRR is at the “Front Gate”
Check on the PFRR weather site for road conditions. Route 6 is the Steese Highway and there is a webcam at the top of Cleary Summit for views north.
Check the vehicle tires for proper air pressure including the spare. Know where the spare and jack are located and know how to change the tire.
Check the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals.
Always have a full tank of gas. When the tank is at half, fill it up. PFRR is a 60 mile round trip from town with no gas stations between Fox and PFRR.
Carry your charged cell phone with you. Coverage is spotty past Cleary Summit. Recent cell towers have installed and coverage has been improved.
Have an arctic gear bag in the cab of your vehicle, not in the trunk. Gear bags are available for launch crews on check-in. First come first served.
Wear warm, loose fitting clothing. Either layer the clothing or carry extra with you. Cold weather coat, insulated bibs, warm hat, gloves/mitts, scarf or face mask, long johns, socks, and winter boots. You may need to walk to the nearest phone, warm shelter, for help in the event of breakdown or accident.
While working on the Range, wear warm clothing appropriate to the work area.
Observe speed limits when driving on the Range road system.
Tell your supervisor when you move from one location to another on the Range, or the Range Mgr or Asst. Range Mgr.


Follow the DAILY Preparedness Checklist above.


The official PFRR temperature is the “Front Gate” temp.
When temps reach -40, launch personnel see the Admin for a SpotMe to use during commute in the event of an accident or breakdown. One per driver of each vehicle. The SpotMe will be set to E-mail your supervisor and PFRR Range Mgr and or the Asst. Range Mgr.
Check with your supervisor prior to departing town. Potential Range closure or shift adjustment, may be implemented. When the Range is closed, PFRR personnel and PFRR users are not to come to the Range until further advised, and closures will be posted on the PFRR website.


The official PFRR temperature is the “Front Gate” temp.

The Director, Geophysical Institute has the responsibility for the safety of all operations under his purview, including directing the closure of PFRR upon the recommendation of responsible PFRR personnel. The Director has delegated authority for closure of PFRR to the Range Manager, and/or Asst. Range Manager based on their observation of conditions and information.

At temperatures colder than -50, the range will be closed. If temperatures are approaching -50 check with your supervisor before coming out to Poker. Report times may be delayed by several hours. Likewise, if temperatures are below -50, a two hour check-in will be implemented so that if temperatures warm up, the range will reopen at a later time.

A Range closure may occur for reasons other than extreme low temperatures such as: Snow storms, warm temps, icing conditions, high winds, highway closure, large scale power failures, natural disaster, and human created disaster. For the weather related closures, the Range Manager and Asst Range Manager will review the available information resources, consult with on-site personnel, and advise the following:

Director Geophysical Institute 907-474-7282
Range Manager 907-455-2110 or 455-2103
Asst Range Manager 907-455-2110 or 455-2111
Facilities Maintenance Lead 907-455-2110 or 2150
Heater Watch (during launch season) 907-455-2109
GI Operations Manager 907-474-7411
Campaign Manager (during launch season) TBD
Range Safety Officer (during launch season) TBD
Mission Manager (during launch season) TBD
GI Public Information Officer 907-474-5823
Other PFRR personnel; Optics, LIDAR, AMISR 907-455-2110, 907-455-2256, 907-455-2204, 907-455-2299

Regular updates as well as notification that the Range is again open will be given to those on the above list.


Any exception from this policy must be approved in writing by the Geophysical Director or his designee, upon receipt of a written request. The requested exception should cover who, what, when, where at PFRR, and why. There is a standing Exception for Heater Watch personnel and Facility Maintenance personnel during Launch Season. See the Exception guidelines in the Heater Watch Handbook.


Your compliance with this policy is required. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from the Range, and/or loss of user privileges at PFRR.


Emergency Response Checklist Exception to the Cold Weather Policy (see the Heater Watch Handbook)
List of Resources for weather info, road info, driving tips NASA Cold Weather Guideline


Wind chill index: The calculation of temperature that takes into consideration the effects of wind and temperature on the human body. Describes the average loss of body heat and how the temperature feels. It is not the actual air temperature.

Frostbite: occurs when body tissue freezes due to exposure to a cold environment. Medical treatment is necessary.

Hypothermia: is the chilling of the body’s core temperature to below 95°F. Severe hypothermia requires prompt medical attention, or death can result.

Strains: are caused by the reduced flexibility of muscles when cold. Strains can also occur from the restrictive effects of cold weather clothing.

Dehydration: occurs due to the loss of moisture from the body. Dehydration often occurs in winter because people do not feel thirsty or believe that they need to drink water during cold weather.

Ambient temperature: is the outside air temperature.

Moose: An ungulate, the largest member of the deer family. They can be weigh up to 1500 lbs, and measure 65+ inches at the shoulder.


Resources utilized to determine weather and road conditions for potential range closure or delayed shift reporting:

Another source for temperatures at various locations around Fairbanks:

Local Weather Forecast

Click for Fairbanks, Alaska Forecast