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6 Mar 2015 04:53 PM EST

Alaska's famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race had to be moved 225 miles north of its usual starting point to Fairbanks, due to lack of snow this year. Meanwhile, race officials are also scrambling to get more of the white stuff on the ceremonial start course through Anchorage ahead of Saturday's kick-off. The ceremonial beginning of the race is held annually in Anchorage, where snow cover is currently limited. Municipal employees used snow machines, sleds and shovels to spread snow on bare areas of the course this week ahead of the run on Saturday. The official start of the race on Monday has been moved north — for the second time ever — from its traditional location in Willow to Fairbanks. The course follows a 1,000-mile path across Arctic tundra to Nome. Seventy-eight mushers, including six former champions and 20 rookies, will participate in this year's race, with the winner expected in Nome about 10 days after setting off from Fairbanks. While eastern portions of the U.S. saw record snowfall, Alaska's temperatures have been unseasonably warm, with only scattered snowfall this winter. Alaskans can thank the jet stream, which has been delivering warm air from the Pacific, according to Dave Snider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. Anchorage gets about 60 inches of snow in a normal year; this year, only about 20 inches have fallen.

Posted by Samantha Wilson

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6 March, 2015
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