Alaskan winters may never be the same again.
The town of Cordova, in south-central Alaska, was hit by another storm that resulted in nearly 15 feet of snow, along with winds of up to 40 mph (64kph) and gusts of up to 55 mph (89 kph), Associated Press reported. State officials have, according to the AP report, closed Seward Highway, the only route south out of Alaska's largest city, cutting off Anchorage from neighborhoods to the south in Girdwood and the Whittier Tunnel, due to high winds and blizzards.
According to the National Weather Service, snowfall this year is the biggest in decades. It has adversely affected the residents of snow-hit areas and transport facilities to and from them. The situation is worse in Cordova, where the Alaskan National Guard is trying to dig through about 10 feet snow that accumulated in a week.
Since Nov. 1, the city has received 176 inches (447 centimeters) of snow and 44.24 inches (112 centimeters) of rain, at times increasing the weight of the snow as it piled up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) high on roofs, officials told AP.
Several commercial buildings and homes have been evacuated and residents have been sent to an emergency shelter, after four buildings and two homes were reportedly damaged in Cordova.
All the flights to the island city had been canceled and three boats sank in local harbors from the weight of snow, AP reported.
The major hurdle in clearing the snow and cutting paths is the shortage of shovels. The officials told AP they were looking for ice chisels, snow shovels and snow scoops but finally had to make special orders to a manufacturer.
It's the heavier, wetter stuff. A lot of these shovels are plastic. These are big strong people and so you're bound to have some equipment that gets damaged and broken. So we need to keep replenishing and repairing and getting those back out on the line so they can get the work done, said Allen Marquette, a Cordova city spokesman.
18 Feet of Snow in Alaska:
A Russian-flagged tanker, Renda, transits through broken Bering Sea ice in this January 9, 2012 handout photo. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy is escorting the Renda as it carries more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel to help the residents of Nome make it through the winter.
A person shovels snow from a rooftop in Cordova, Alaska, on January 9. National Guardsmen were helping residents of the Prince William Sound fishing town of Cordova dig out on Monday, following weeks of storms that left parts of the town buried under more than 10 feet of snow.
An Alaska National Guardsman clears a building roof in Cordova, on January 9. Alaska National Guardsmen are helping shovel what has been the biggest snowfall in decades in Cordova, where another 6 to 14 inches are expected on January 10, accompanied by rain and high winds, the National Weather Service said. The town of Valdez, which is on track to set a snowfall record this winter, could see more than a foot of snow through early Wednesday, the service said.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks Bering Sea ice, as it creates a path for the Russian-flagged tanker Renda to follow, 266 km (165 miles) from Nome, Alaska in this photo taken on January 8. The Seattle-based Healy is escorting the Renda, as it carries more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel to help the residents of Nome make it through the winter.
The Cordova Jr/Sr. High School in Cordova, Alaska is shown buried under snow in this photo released by the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, to Reuters, on January 9.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (R) breaks ice for the Russian-flagged tanker vessel Renda 250 miles (400 km) south of Nome in this handout photo taken January 6, 2012. The Renda is carrying over one million gallons of fuel supplies for delivery to the residents of Nome.
A house in Cordova, Alaska, is covered with snow and icicles in this handout photo released to Reuters on January 9. National Guardsmen were helping residents of the Prince William Sound fishing town of Cordova dig out on Monday, following weeks of storms that left parts of the town buried under more than 10 feet of snow.
Downtown Cordova, Alaska, is covered in snow in this handout photo released to Reuters on January 9. National Guardsmen were helping residents of the Prince William Sound fishing town of Cordova dig out on Monday, following weeks of storms that left parts of the town buried under more than 10 feet of snow.