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One week before Thanksgiving, much of the nation is digging out from snowstorms, but the ground is bare in Alaska's largest city. Anchorage normally has nearly 17 inches of snowfall this time of year. Instead, it's seen less than 4 inches — and that snow fell a month ago and melted in unseasonably warmer weather. Without powder, local skiers are hitting the trails on roller skis or getting fit indoors. Some people are finding frozen lakes to skate on, even if it means leaving town. Others are celebrating.
A light rain fell this week, only to later freeze into a slick layer on roads. So far, however, Anchorage's high this month was 48 degrees on Nov. 10, instead of the norm of 29 degrees for that day, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Dixon. The same system that is pushing frigid conditions from the north to the Lower 48 states is bringing warmer and drier conditions to Alaska's mainland from the south, Dixon said. It's sort of like trading places. "I'll be glad when it's here," said Tamra Kornfield of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage.