Seven rail cars are scheduled to pull into Alaska on Thursday, and they'll be packed with a precious commodity one wouldn't think Anchorage would need: snow for the famous Iditarod dog-sled race that begins Saturday, the Alaska Dispatch News reports. "It's no secret that warm temperatures for days on end have further eroded what little snow cover existed on the trail system here in Anchorage," a statement from the event's CEO says. The snow is being lugged in from a rail yard hundreds of miles away in Fairbanks, per an Alaska Railroad spokesman.
Anchorage has enjoyed unseasonably balmier temps this winter (the National Weather Service says the city got just 1.8 inches of fresh snow in February, compared with a typical 10.9 inches, per CBS News) and all the existing snow has melted, NBC News notes. "The railroad is saving our behinds," says the director of Fur Rendezvous, the huge winter festival that runs alongside the Iditarod and also needs snow for its events. But even the imported mush material won't be enough to keep the entire ceremonial start route for the race intact: An Iditarod press release notes that the usual 11-mile path has been shortened to just 3 miles. (Boston could've helped out with the snow if this winter had been like last year's.)