ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The snow is already piled so high that drivers cannot see around corners. Homeowners are getting worried their roofs can't handle the load. And snow-removal crews are running up the overtime hours.
Even by Alaska's prodigious, mythmaking standards, this is a remarkably snowy winter on the Last Frontier.
In one of the strangest winters across the United States in many years, Alaska's biggest city has gotten more snow - more than 74 inches so far - than it normally receives in an entire winter (68 inches). And there are still four more months of snowy weather ahead.
Anchorage Daily News columnist Beth Bragg cried, "Uncle!"
"Winter wins," she wrote in Friday's column. "Snow wins. Now can we see the sun again?
"Twice already I've hired someone to shovel my roof. Both times I waited until water leaked into the house. Both times, I discovered something was amiss, not because water dripped off the ceiling, but because it seeped through the bedroom carpet."
The robust snowfall comes after several years of wimpy, low-snow winters in proudly rugged Alaska, and so it is welcome news to some.
"I love the snow. Bring it on!" said Whitney Hitchcock, 20, a University of Alaska student who likes to go ice-skating at an outdoor rink downtown. "I can't get enough."
Anchorage's snowfall record is 132.5 inches, set in the winter of 1955-56.
City snow-removal crews have had to cut channels through the streets, leaving narrower-than-usual roadways, hemmed in by walls of snow as high as cars.
Ronnie Arnett, who came to Alaska from Kentucky in 1999 because of the lure of the frontier, said she was fortunate she drove a big vehicle.
Owning SUVs "should almost be a requirement in Alaska for safety reasons," she said. "It gives you the power to see over the humps."
To help open side streets, Anchorage police have begun towing cars and issuing tickets instead of just warning drivers. A police spokesman, Lt. Paul Honeman, said people had "become a little lulled in light-snow years."
The city's 100 snow-removal employees will have to work 10-hour shifts six days a week for the next two months to clear the streets, said Alan Czajkowski, director of maintenance and operations.
And to think, last year at this time, crews were patching potholes created by a warming trend that had water running down the streets.
Contractors are fielding a blizzard of calls from homeowners wanting their roofs cleared before the ice and snow cause damage and force water through the ceiling.
Brent Eaton, operations manager for Rain Proof Roofing, said the company had a three-week backlog of roof snow-removal jobs.