Cold is a fact of life in wintertime Alaska, but it has been so frigid in much of the state for the past week that children have stayed inside and planes have stayed on the ground. But several people won some cool cash thanks to the cold.

Alaska is synonymous with ice and snow to many people, and winter in most of Alaska is as long or longer than the other seasons combined. So when Alaskans notice winter, it must be cold.They noticed it Thursday in Anchorage, the state's biggest city, when the mercury plunged to minus 24. But that was mild compared to Fairbanks, the second-largest city, which hit 47 below, prompting schools to issues warnings for parents to protect children against cold and ice fog.

But in Fairbanks three people will share $5,000 for guessing the day and hour of the first 40-below-zero reading in the city's first Mercury Classic.

Upstate New Yorker David Fish, 21, of Painted Post, and Fairbanks residents Todd Snyder and Michelle Swartz each won $1,666.66 for pre-winter guesses that Fairbanks would hit minus-40 between 11 p.m. and midnight Jan. 18.

"Just a lucky guess," Fish said.

Lows in several towns were pushing minus-60. Highs in Galena, Fort Yukon, McGrath and Bettles have been stuck in the minus-50s.

Thursday's coldest reading was 64 below zero at Chandalar north of Fairbanks.