Winter storm brings record snowfall to parts of Arizona

Clark County School District in southern Nevada, the nation’s fifth-largest, cancelled classes

A winter storm that swept through the Southwest and brought a rare snowfall to the Las Vegas Strip and the mountains above Malibu in California pounded north-central Arizona with record amounts.

The Clark County School District in southern Nevada, the nation’s fifth-largest, is cancelling classes Friday because of the weather. In northern Arizona, schools, government offices, airports and roads were expected to be closed for a second day as the storm tapers off.

Residents in northern Arizona will be digging out from what the National Weather Service characterized as “not your average” storm.

“It is by no means over for us,” said meteorologist Mark Stubblefield in Flagstaff. “It’s still dangerous to travel.”

The snow began late Wednesday and didn’t let up Thursday, falling at 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 centimetres) an hour in parts of Arizona. The National Weather Service said that rate will fall by about half Friday. Officials will turn their concerns to local streets that didn’t get plowed, overburdened roofs and freezing temperatures expected into the weekend.

Flagstaff on Thursday had a new single-day snowfall record of 35.9 inches (91.2 centimetres) at the airport and had to shut down its only runway because of zero visibility. The record set in 1915 was 31 inches (78.7 centimetres).

Phoenix on Thursday set a record for the day with 1.01 inch (2.57 centimetre) of rain, eclipsing the old mark of 0.73 inch (1.85 centimetres) set in 1973.

Outlying areas in higher elevations of the northern outskirts of metro Phoenix had light snowfall, which National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Deemer said Friday is not uncommon.

The National Weather Service in Las Vegas tweeted in response to its counterpart in Flagstaff that the .5 inches (1.27 centimetres) of snow recorded there broke its previous record of zero.

Clark County school officials say classes for roughly 320,000 students will be cancelled due to the possibility of freezing temperatures making roads unsafe for buses.

READ MORE: Snowman pops up on Vegas Strip as city sees rare winter weather

McCarran International Airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said she tallied about 100 flight cancellations because of snow and ice. The storm has brought the first significant snowfall at the airport in a decade with 0.8 inch (2 centimetre) by Thursday afternoon.

The rare snowfall prompted revelers to erect a snowman near the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

“We expected cold, but not snow,” tourist Lila de Guerrero said after taking a photo at the sign wearing a puffer jacket and hat.

The storm also dropped snow in the Santa Monica Mountains above the Malibu coast and coated large areas of desert northeast of Los Angeles.

“No need to panic Los Angeles — the LAPD is on snow watch,” the city’s police department tweeted, along with video of a light flurry.

Authorities closed portions of the main routes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Phoenix because of snow, ice and limited visibility.

Several roads across Arizona, including northbound Interstate 17 for about 40 miles (64 kilometres) south of Flagstaff, were closed. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said no one died or was seriously injured in the more than 250 calls it handled in the northern portion of the state.

The cities of Flagstaff and Prescott, and Coconino County declared emergencies. Officials said snow plows struggled to keep routes clear and there was “significant concern” about the weight on rooftops.

The roads were eerily quiet throughout the day and the storm essentially shut down towns across the region. Payson, about 90 miles (144.8 kilometres) northeast of Phoenix, gets an average annual snowfall of about 2 feet (0.6 metres). It hit that amount Thursday, closing roads in and out of town and leaving travellers stranded.

Paul Moss and other drivers were chatting about the latest road conditions at a travel centre west of Flagstaff on Thursday, where semi-trailers were stuck waiting to fuel up. Moss said he could drive in the snow but prefers not to do so.

“Sometimes it’s just unsafe. You need to shut down,” said the Los Banos, California, resident, who was hauling a truckload of oranges. “I’ve got a family to go home to. My family is more important than freight.”

AP writers Ken Ritter, Michelle Price and Regina Garcia Cano in Las Vegas; Terry Tang, Paul Davenport and Astrid Galvan in Phoenix; and Christopher Weber and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

Westhills proposes picnic area, pier and beach by Langford Lake

The public amenity contribution is part of a proposed deal for a waterfront restaurant

Victoria BC Transit driver taken to hospital after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

View Royal council to discuss proposed 3.5% tax increase tonight

Budget open house to directly precede the council meeting

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

Most Read