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

Port Hardy RCMP issues warning about recent overdose

“Our primary concern is public safety. We are urging the public to be aware of what is circulating.”

Port Hardy RCMP looking for volunteers who are interested in public safety

“The volunteer program will include community and crime prevention programs”

Suspicious fire in Alert Bay burns two homes, spreads to nearby bush

Police say underage suspects have been identified

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles tie Dawson Creek Canucks in front of massive hometown crowd in Port Hardy

The Tier 3 Bantam Championships continued in style last night at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.

Tri-Port Midget Wild finish season with gold medal performance

The other teams were no match for the Tri-Port girls.

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Most Read