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Alaska city hit by record snowfall

A spring snowfall has broken the nearly 60-year-old seasonal snow record of Alaska's largest city.

Inundated with nearly double the snow they are used to, Anchorage residents have been expecting to see this season's snowfall surpass the record of 132.6 inches set in the winter of 1954-55.

The 3.4 inches that fell by Saturday afternoon brought the total to 133.6 inches.

National Weather Service meteorologist Shaun Baines said forecasters do not expect more than an inch of additional accumulation.

Extreme weather has hit not only Alaska. It has also struck the lower 48 US states, where the first three months of 2012 has seen twice the normal number of tornadoes and one of the warmest winters on record.

Two different weather phenomena - La Nina and its northern cousin the Arctic Oscillation - are mostly to blame, meteorologists say. Global warming could also be a factor because it is supposed to increase weather extremes, according to climate scientists.

Even by Alaska standards, Anchorage has been walloped by snow. City snow removal crews have worked around the clock to clear roadways and haul more than 2.5 million cubic yards of snow to the city's six snow disposal sites, which are close to capacity.

That is not even counting the loads disposed of by state crews.

At the height of the snow overload, many residential streets were rimmed by snow-walled canyons that towered over fences and shielded homes. Some roofs collapsed, mostly on older commercial buildings with flat roofs.

The collapses caught the attention of many residents worried the same thing would happen to their roofs, a concern that turned into booming business for commercial snow removal outfits.

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