Storm dumps snow in northern Arizona

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Snow in Cottonwood By Jennifer Thomas Snow in Cottonwood By Jennifer Thomas
Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver
Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver
Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver
Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver Wickenburg, Ariz. By Christina O'Haver

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A major winter storm dropped snow across northern Arizona on Wednesday, blanketing major freeways and creating havoc for drivers.

Officers started the day responding to dozens of reports of vehicles colliding or sliding along freeways, but no fatalities were reported, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Raul Garcia said. Most of the incidents occurred near the city of Kingman along Interstate 40 and other highways.

I-40 was shut down in both directions about 20 miles east of Kingman because of icy roads, snow and disabled vehicles. The interstate connects Kingman and Flagstaff.

A winter storm warning was in effect until midday Thursday for the northern and eastern parts of the state, along with the mountains in the southeastern section.

U.S. 93, the highway connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas, was closed to northbound traffic at Wikieup for several hours because of poor driving conditions, but it reopened by mid-afternoon.

Parts of the Flagstaff area had between 5 and 12 inches of snow as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. But the Flagstaff airport reported 12.7 inches. Forecasters predict accumulations of 9 to 15 inches by late Thursday, and several businesses and government offices, including Flagstaff City Hall, closed early on New Year's Eve.

Sedona, known for its red rocks, got 7 inches of snow on the west side. Cities in Yavapai county also got 2 or more inches of snow. The community of Ash Fork received a foot.

In suburban Phoenix, some residents got a rare sight of snow. Weather service meteorologist Mark O'Malley said north Scottsdale and Cave Creek, just north of Phoenix, received a light dusting.

"It wasn't a substantial amount," O'Malley said. "Some of those locations could still get more snow for the remainder of the day. It just looks kind of weird to see snow on a bunch of cactus."

Most people in the Phoenix area should expect light rain and chilly temperatures, according to the weather service. An overnight freeze warning was issued for the city.

"Cover the plants, make sure you get your pets inside, take any precautions you normally would," O'Malley said.

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Snow coming down in N. Ariz, possible on McDowell Mountains, Camelback, Piestewa

STATEWIDE -- The #NewYearsStorm is here and it's pretty impressive. Rain will be lighter than originally forecast and likely end by tonight's celebrations.

It was raining in the central Phoenix area at 6 a.m. and more is coming in. Rainfall totals are expected to be light with most Valley spots seeing less than 0.25 inch.

As of 11 a.m., Prescott had received 1.5 inches of snow. Munds Park was reporting 5 inches of snow, the Verde Valley has seen 2 to 5 inches, and Sedona and Camp Verde were each reporting 2 inches.

More than a foot of snow had fallen across parts of east Flagstaff by 1 p.m. and more is expected.

The National Weather Service in Flagstaff says moderate to heavy snow is expected in the Young and Heber area Wednesday afternoon.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has advised motorists to expect snow and ice on the just over 200 miles of Interstate 40 from the Kingman area on the west to Winslow on the east.

Snow levels this morning were around 5,400 feet but will come crashing down to about 2,000 feet with cold air moving in.

That means we could see snow blanketing the McDowell Mountains by late morning. It's also possible we could see some snow today on spots like Camelback Mountain (2,700 feet) and Piestewa Peak (2,600 feet) by later in the afternoon or this evening.

Moisture just has to line up at right time to make that happen. While it would not be much snow, it's worth mentioning because it only happens once every few years.

Shortly before 8 a.m., snow was reported as far south as Wickenburg, which is a little more than an hour northwest of Phoenix. Elevation there is 2,057 feet. By about 8:45 a.m., it was covering the ground.

The storm is accompanied by some very cold temperatures.

There's a freeze warning tonight for parts of Maricopa County, but as of this morning, it does not include the Valley. It will still be cold tonight, but our freeze warning is for tomorrow night into Friday morning, when many Valley spots will be down to the mid-20s.





Flagstaff snow video from Calvin Johnson

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