Desert cities in US Southwest see freeze

“It’s the first time we’ve seen snow the desert,” says Mayra Vasquez who brought Valeria Luzania, 11, and MarcoDario Luzania, 8, to Saguaro National Park East on Wednesday. (Mamta Popat /Arizona Daily Star via AP)

The Empire Mountains emerge from cloud cover after the second round of winter storms brought snowfall to the surrounding metro Tucson area and southeast Arizona, Wednesday. (Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

Snow partially covers a cactus outside Tucson near Vail, Ariz., Wednesday. (Jessica Howard/via AP)

PHOENIX — The weather was flipped Wednesday throughout much of the U.S. West, with snow falling on cactuses in the Arizona desert and Anchorage seeing balmy weather — at least by Alaska standards.