PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The massive winter storm sweeping across the state is everything Arizona’s Weather Authority has been forecasting all week.
[FORECAST: Rain and snow continues across Arizona]
The snowfall totals are changing hour to hour, but several feet have been reported at the top of Snowbowl Mountain near Flagstaff.
The 11am Flagstaff Airport snowfall report is in, and it is now up to 40.1" storm total since Wednesday night. This is currently 8th place for a multiple day event for Flagstaff. #azwx— NWS Flagstaff (@NWSFlagstaff) February 22, 2019
The City declared a state of emergency and all non-essential services will be closed on Friday, Feb. 22.
Both the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety tweeted warnings to people planning to head to Flagstaff or be on Interstate 40.
ADOT had 200 snow plows out on the roads with 400 workers taking 12-hour shifts 24/7.
Although I-17 North is back open, and you can get to Flagstaff, some people who live in the city think the roads are too dangerous for travelers.
"Honestly, I don’t think they should come up at all," said Tyler Golightly. "I believe the roads are dangerous. A lot of people that I’ve talked to are from Phoenix too. They say,yeah I’m coming up, and I say don’t, the roads are too dangerous."
Golightly said his truck slid off the road Thursday, and he saw several drivers sliding on the icy roads too.
“If you are considering a trip to Flagstaff or across I-40 cancel it for now,” Col. Frank Milstead, director of DPS tweeted. He included photos of a rolled RV, saying “this is just the beginning.”
Melissa Pye walked a few blocks to work because she worried her car would not make it through the snow Friday.
"I thought, ok, forget it, I'm not even going to try shoveling it all," said Pye. "I’m just going to walk."
Many people around Flagstaff had the same idea, choosing to ski, walk or Uber around town instead of driving themselves.
If you are considering a trip to Flagstaff or across I-40 cancel it for now. I have attached a couple photos and this is just the beginning. pic.twitter.com/y83BZZFKH1— Col. Frank Milstead (@frank_milstead) February 21, 2019
ADOT tweeted a similar caveat, advising people who go ahead with their travel plans to " leave prepared for the possibility that you’ll spend extended time in winter conditions due to road closures and extreme conditions.”
AVOID TRAVEL during the winter storm. If you decide to travel, leave prepared for the possibility that you’ll spend extended time in winter conditions due to road closures and extreme conditions. #azwx #aztraffic pic.twitter.com/AK9T5fkJ2G— Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT) February 21, 2019
Drivers on I-40 in Kingman experienced just that.
Max Gorden talked to one driver who has to spend the night in a motel because he can't get home through all the snow.
ADOT said snowplows are working around the clock, but are having a rough time keeping up with the relentless snow.
On Thursday afternoon, ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel tweeted video of a snowplow operator hard at work on I-40 in Flagstaff.
Not just Flagstaff
It's not just Flagstaff that's taking a cold beating from this storm.
High school basketball champions cancelled in Prescott Valley
Tthe high school 1A and 2A basketball champions in Prescott Valley are cancelled after parents were not happy about it.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association said "At this point, while 13 schools are in the Prescott area, it is unsafe for them to travel to the arena."
As of 7:30 a.m. Friday, these were the major highway restrictions around Arizona, according to ADOT.
• I-17 northbound is closed from State Route 179 (Sedona turnoff) to Flagstaff.
• SR 89A is closed in both directions between Sedona and Flagstaff.
• SR 87 is closed in both directions from Payson to Winslow. SR 87 is closed in both directions between Bush Highway and Payson.
• SR 260 is closed in both directions between Star Valley and Heber. SR 260 is closed in both directions from just east of I-17 to SR 87.
• US 60 is closed in both directions between SR 73. US 60 eastbound from Superior to Globe.
• SR 77 is closed in both directions between Globe and Winkelman.
• US 191 is closed in both directions between Alpine and Morenci.
Winter Storm Warning
The Winter Storm Warning kicked in for the high country Wednesday night. It will remain in effect through Thursday night and into Friday. It is set to expire at 5 p.m.
“It’s likely we’ll see the storm showing signs of weakening by then,” Arizona’s Family chief meteorologist Royal Norman said early Thursday afternoon, ahead of what’s expected to be the worst of the storm.
Many school districts planned ahead, canceling classes before the storm hit.
Rain in the lower elevations
The Phoenix area has seen scattered showers throughout the day, with more rain expected throughout this evening.
A flood advisory was in effect for Maricopa and Pinal counties until 11 p.m. Thursday.
The weather service said light to moderate rain is flooding washes and causing water to pond on roadways.
That rain took a toll on the first spring training game of the season.
An hour into the Oakland A's and the Seattle Mariners 1:05 p.m. game at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, baseball fans were forced to leave. The game was rained out.
The slick roads made for treacherous driving. A single-vehicle rollover crash was caught on camera on Interstate 17 north of Daisy Mountain. It happened fast.
WATCH: Vehicle rolls on wet freeway
The storm is a cold one, with icy conditions reaching as far south State Route 74, which is about a 15-minute drive north of Phoenix. Hail and graupel (Remember the graupel that painted Salt River Fields white a few years ago?) were reported in the area shortly before 1 p.m.
Graupel, by the way, is also called soft hail or snow pellets. According to The National Severe Storms Laboratory, graupel is "created when supercooled water droplets coat a snowflake."
This powerful winter storm has knocked out power to thousands of households around the Phoenix area. At 8 p.m. Thursday, the number had dropped to about 300 customers.
Spencer Blake was there as drivers crossed the flowing Moon Valley wash in North Phoenix Thursday afternoon.
Crossing a flooded wash is a dangerous endeavor; the water moves fast and it doesn't take much to sweep away a car or even a truck.
Last week, Maria Hechanova talked to the Maricopa County Flood Control District about the dangers of flowing washes.
"Don't cross flooded washes. They can take your vehicle and your life. It's just not worth it," spokesman Steve Waters said.
Weekend fun in the snow
Looking ahead to this weekend when Phoenicians will flock north to play in the snow -- we know you're already planning your trip -- make sure you don't leave anything behind. We're talking about trash.
Arizona's snow play areas are there for everyone to enjoy, but visitors should respect them.
You'd be stunned -- not in a good way -- to see what's been left behind in the past. It's not pretty.
Don't be that person. Bottom line: If it goes with you, it leaves with you. It's just that simple.
READ THIS: Don't trash Arizona's snow play areas!
FIND US WHERE YOU NEED US: Our apps for mobile devices and streaming services
FLIGHT DELAYS: In and out of Sky Harbor International Airport
SLIDESHOW: Snow and rain around Arizona
CUTE VIDEO! Four-legged friends frolic in the fresh powder