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

Firefighters have doused a Peachland house fire

Fire crews are still on scene investigating the cause of the BBQ fire which made its way to the home

Special memorial service to say goodbye to murdered teen

A memorial service and celebratio of life was held Tuesday for murdered teen Elijah-Iain Beauregard

Wilson M. Beck Charity Golf Tournament in Kelowna benefiting YMCA of Okanagan

The tournament is sold out with 144 golfers swinging for the cause

Is construction in Kelowna hurting small businesses, or helping them?

Voices from both sides of the spectrum weigh in

Kelowna baseballers invited to league all-star game

The 2019 West Coast League All-Star Game will have two players from the Kelowna Falcons

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

False report of dead body leads police to sex dolls at Manning Park

Princeton RCMP breathed a sigh of relief, momentarily, when they discovered a… Continue reading

Ironman returns to Okanagan after seven-year absence

Subaru Ironman Canada is coming back to Penticton in 2020

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Okanagan College campus flies Syilx flag

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag was raised at a ceremony at Vernon campus on July 16

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

Summerland clinic will be closed on August long weekend

Medical office assistant needed at Rosedale Medical Clinic

Most Read