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Alaskan port cut off from road traffic after avalanches

(Reuters) - Road traffic to Valdez, Alaska, was cut off from the rest of the state after avalanches over the weekend blocked the only road into the coastal community, officials said on Monday.

The highway to the town of about 4,000 residents was blocked after an avalanche in the Keystone Canyon on Friday, followed by another on Saturday, according to the city's website.

The Richardson Highway could be shut for a week or more while crews work to clear the road, officials said. Supplies were being brought by barge to the town, one of Alaska's main seaports, which lies in a remote area of the Chugach Mountains.

Officials have set up shelters and urged some residents to evacuate their homes as a precaution, according to the website.

"There is plenty of gasoline and heating fuel oil in town to serve local needs during an extended road closure," said a statement posted late Sunday. "Should fuel run short at any time, it will be barged in as needed."

Schools remain open in the town, as well as airport and port facilities, officials said.

Valdez was recently named by Weather.com as the snowiest city in the nation, with an average annual snowfall of 326 inches.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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