Winter storm brings rain and snow to Ariz., school, road closures, power outages

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by 3TV and Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on March 18, 2012 at 7:40 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 11:48 AM

PHOENIX -- When it rains it pours. Parts of the Valley had a downpour on Sunday morning while other areas got light showers. Meantime, the snow is falling in the high country with several inches reported in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas.

Officials with the Arizona Department of Transportation announced some major road closures Sunday morning. A big section of Interstate 40 is closed from about Kingman to Winslow because of the poor driving conditions from snow and ice. There are reports of numerous slide-offs and accidents.

Northbound Interstate 17 is closed at the junction of State Route 179. I-17 southbound remains open at this time.

U.S. 180 is closed north of the Arizona Snowbowl to State Route 64 at Valle.

State Route 87 is closed north of Pine near Clint’s Well.

The storm caused a pair of school cancellations in Flagstaff before the first flake has fallen.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College canceled classes Monday to allow students an extra day of safer travel to return from spring break.

The Flagstaff Unified School District announced that all schools will be closed on Monday, March 19 due to current and predicted snowfall.

According to Trudy Thompson Rice with the American Red Cross Grand Canyone Chapter, the organization is mobilizing volunteers to open a shelter in Yavapai County saying storm-related power outtages have created a need for assistance. 

When the wind and clouds from the late winter storm rolled into Arizona they brought a swift and significant change from just two days ago when temperatures where in the 80's.

This storm had been forecasted for days and those forecasts appear to be right on target.

You can expect to see a lot of rain and snowfall moving through Arizona throughout Sunday and into Monday. It started during the overnight hours and by sunrise Flagstaff had reports of more than 7 inches of snow.

There will be a break in the weather after this first morning round clears but the rain and snow is expected to return in the afternoon as the storms track to the east and the northeast.

In Payson the rain switched over to snow on Sunday morning. We have reports of snow from 3TV viewers coming from Wilhoit, Chino Valley, Heber, and Prescott Valley. Winslow and Tuba city are also expected to get snow today.

3TV reporter Mike Watkiss is in Flagstaff where he said the snow started coming down at about 3:00 a.m. on Sunday. He talked to some people who were out on the roads.

"The roads are icky. I wouldn't advise getting on it but I got to get home," said one man who was on his way to Des Moines, Iowa.

"This one is coming in big and heavy. We're having a hard time keeping up," according to a snowplow operator in Flagstaff.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service in Bellemont calls for between 12 and 22 inches of snow above 7,000 feet. Snow is expected to continue through Sunday before diminishing Monday.

Strong winds ahead of the storm reached 61 mph in Parks earlier Saturday.

Winds will continue at 20 to 30 mph throughout the storm, and blowing and drifting snow is expected to cause extremely dangerous driving conditions.

Residents are being urged to postpone all nonessential travel during the storm.

The Valley did get some thunderstorms overnight with heavy rainfall in the west part of the Valley. More than 1 inch of rain fell in Buckeye.

Temperatures around the Valley are expected to stay in the 50's today.

In Phoenix, 3TV reporter Crystal Cruz was gauging reaction to the storm at the Phoenix Brain Tumor Walk at Steele Indian School Park at Central Avenue and Indian School Road in central Phoenix.

Organizers said the rain won't stop their event. They plan to hold the walk come rain or shine. People were wearing plenty of rain gear and drinking plenty of coffee to cope with the weather.

Get the latest forecast for your neighborhood

Arizona Department of Public Safety: Major winter storm to impact travel this weekend

Arizona Snowbowl

Sunrise Ski Park

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