‘Snow’ kid­ding

Parts of Val­ley dusted white as storm smacks high coun­try

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Nathan J. Fish Ari­zona Re­pub­lic | USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

What could be Ari­zona’s last ma­jor win­ter storm of the sea­son moved through the state on Thurs­day and is ex­pected to bring rain to the Phoenix area and heavy snow­fall to many ar­eas in the state’s high coun­try on Fri­day.

Snow fell in Cave Creek, rain driz­zled through­out Phoenix and roads closed due to ‘treach­er­ous’ con­di­tions in Flagstaff.

“Sur­pris­ingly if you live here through enough win­ters, it re­ally isn’t too un­com­mon see a dust­ing of snow across that por­tion of the Val­ley,” said An­drew Deemer, a Me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice in Phoenix.

“What I think over­all might be more un­usual might be how much snow ev­ery­one is get­ting through­out a wide por­tion of the state,” he said.

Deemer said Phoenix may get up to 2 inches of rain while the Flagstaff area could get more than 2 feet of snow.

“Usu­ally you don’t see such a wide swath of the state get that much

snow said.

State of­fi­cials rec­om­mended that driv­ers avoid trav­el­ing to north­ern Ari­zona on Thurs­day and Fri­day if pos­si­ble. Snow lev­els are ex­pected to drop to about 3,000 feet.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ari­zona Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, DPS, in four north­ern dis­tricts, han­dled 152 calls for stuck ve­hi­cles and slide-offs and 28 non-in­jury and in­jury crashes since 3 a.m.

“It’s the type of snow­storm that re­ally cov­ers the ve­hi­cles and I’d say a lot of the cars that I’m see­ing have more than a foot a snow on top of them,” said Doug Nintzel an Ari­zona Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion spokesman. “The roads are, quite frankly, treach­er­ous across much of the re­gion.”

Nintzel, who nor­mally works in the val­ley said he trav­eled up north to keep an eye on the storm.

“In hear­ing the weather fore­cast as we were head­ing into the storm, this was seen as one of the more pow­er­ful storms that was go­ing to en­ter Ari­zona in the past 10 or 15 years,” Nintzel said.

Ac­cord­ing to the NWS in Flagstaff, at around 11:20 a.m., Flagstaff Air­port recorded 22.3 inches of snow, smash­ing the daily record of 10 inches set back in 1944 and are quickly ap­proach­ing the all-time daily record snow­fall for Flagstaff of 31 inches set in 1915.

There have been a num­ber of road clo­sures all over Ari­zona due to the in­clement weather.

“We have had sec­tions of In­ter­state 40 in north­west­ern Ari­zona that have been closed be­cause of snow and ice on the road­ways and so that points to an­other ex­am­ple that this is a very pow­er­ful storm,” Nintzel said.

Ac­cord­ing to Nintzel, ADOT has a fleet of 200 snow plows, 60 of which are cur­rently de­ployed in the Flagstaff area.

“The snow plow op­er­a­tors are do­ing the best they can, but we still have snow­pack and icy con­di­tions through­out the area,” Nintzel said. “We’re at a point where we’re rec­om­mend­ing that driv­ers try their best not to be out on the high­ways, es­pe­cially in the high coun­tries be­cause of the ice and snow. We’re, quite frankly, rec­om­mend­ing that trav­el­ers de­lay their travel.”

The Co­conino County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice re­leased a warn­ing Thurs­day evening to back­coun­try moun­tain trav­el­ers to be alert for po­ten­tial avalanche haz­ards on all through one storm,” Deemer the San Fran­cisco Peaks.

“Avalanche mit­i­ga­tion and pa­trolling is con­ducted within the Ari­zona Snow­bowl, but there is no avalanche con­trol or rou­tine pa­trolling in the for­est out­side of the Snow­bowl,” the re­lease said. “Those trav­el­ing into the back­coun­try need to be pre­pared for and un­der­stand the con­di­tions prior to ven­tur­ing out.”

Prescott Mayor Greg Men­garelli signed a procla­ma­tion declar­ing a state of emer­gency about 9:15 a.m. Thurs­day in con­nec­tion with a win­ter storm that has dumped a sig­nif­i­cant amount of snow across higher el­e­va­tions in Ari­zona.

The procla­ma­tion is in ac­cor­dance with ARS 26-311 and al­lows for Prescott city of­fi­cials to seek re­im­burse­ment if and when an emer­gency or dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion is made at the state or fed­eral level, ac­cord­ing to the city’s web­site.

Prescott could re­ceive be­tween 17 and 23 inches of snow from the storm Thurs­day and Fri­day, city of­fi­cials posted on­line.

“Res­i­dents are urged to stay off the streets and avoid driv­ing dur­ing this storm to al­low emer­gency and pub­lic ser­vice ve­hi­cles to travel as freely as pos­si­ble,” ac­cord­ing to Prescott’s web­site.

While snow has cov­ered much of north­ern Ari­zona and even in Cave Creek, it’s highly un­likely Phoenix will see any snow, Deemer said.

“Right now, it’s still pretty warm in the Val­ley and the snow lev­els right over us are still a bit high, so I’ll never say never. I’ve seen snowflakes fall in town on more than one oc­ca­sion but for to­day it looks a bit too warm for most folks in the val­ley see any kind of snow,” Deemer said.

Tem­per­a­tures dropped to 44 de­grees in Phoenix with scat­tered rain all day Thurs­day.

“This might be the last cold punch,” Deemer said. “It’s trend­ing that way, but some­times March can de­liver a sur­prise, but this might be it.”

Above: Snow cov­ers cac­tuses in Care­free. ROB SCHU­MACHER/THE RE­PUB­LIC Top: Snow blan­keted the streets of down­town Flagstaff, as more than 22 inches ac­cu­mu­lated Thurs­day. THOMAS HAWTHORNE/THE RE­PUB­LIC

Si­enna Chap­man and Aldo Bran­sky carry their chil­dren as they walk through the snow in down­town Flagstaff on Thurs­day. Flagstaff Air­port recorded more than 22 inches of snow, smash­ing the record of 10 inches.

Snow cov­ers a Scotts­dale golf course on Thurs­day.

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