Heavy Snowstorm Buys Forest A Few More Weeks

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Just as businesses were trying to figure out how to survive a long, dry summer, a spring snowstorm blanketed the Rim country Thursday and Friday.

"It came one minute before it was too late," said Anna Mae Deming, Payson's National Weather Service observer. As of 7:45 a.m. Friday, Deming measured 16 inches of snow at her Main Street residence, for a total storm of 20 inches.

Meteorologist Benjamin Peterson from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff said, historically, this storm has been one of Payson's biggest.

"You've got more snow than we have," Peterson said Friday morning. Flagstaff, he said, only had about 12 to 18 inches of snow on the ground by 8 a.m.

Peterson said the storm will be tapering off by Friday afternoon, and Saturday will likely bring a few clouds and snow showers.

As of 9:30 a.m. Friday, crews from Arizona Public Service were battling power outages in Tonto Basin, Jakes Corner and Gisela.

"We've got cross-arms down and lines down all over the place," said Jan Parsons of APS. "Areas from Flowing Springs to East Verde Estates are without power, and we've just heard that there's lines down near Bonita Creek towards Forest Lakes."

Parsons said the entire Payson crew was working to restore power, and was being joined by crews from Flagstaff and local tree-cutting businesses to correct any problems.

Payson police and fire officials said they had not heard of any accidents with injuries in the area as of mid-morning Friday.

Gila County District 1 road foreman Gene Moore said all six of his district's road graders were on the roads Friday morning, digging out residents from Strawberry to Colcord Road.

"They're doing all of the secondary roads now, such as the Control Road under the Rim," he said.

Officers of the Department of Public Safety were also kept busy with a number of motorists off the road, and 18-wheelers jack-knifed across the highways.

In Strawberry, residents reported at least 2 1/2 feet of snow on the ground.

"I've got llamas, and all I can see is their heads," said Roundup staff writer Myndi Brogdon, adding that her community was almost at a standstill.

As for the forest in and around Payson, forest officials say every little bit helps.

"We're definitely looking at a break in the immediate problem," said Walt Thole of the Payson Ranger District. "I would say this will probably buy us three to four weeks, then we'll have to re-evaluate (possible forest closings)."

For the latest road conditions, contact DPS at (888) 411-7623.

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