Snow Soaks Into Bone-Dry Rim Country, Power Returns

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While evidence of the storm that blew through the Rim country this week is melting away, its effects will be felt for several months.


Payson's National Weather Service Observer Anna Mae Deming said she received nine inches of snow at her Main Street home, with a total of 4.14 inches of precipitation seeping into the thirsty ground.


"It's been a godsend," Deming said Thursday. "But we need so much more. Normally, when we get one inch of precipitation, the meadow across the street runs. With this storm, with this 4.14 inches, it just soaked right into the ground. That's how desperately dry it is."


While the snow transformed the Rim country into a winter wonderland that attracted tourists from the south, it also knocked out electricity to thousands of local Arizona Public Service customers, transforming some of their houses into iceboxes.


Jim Spencer, district manager for Arizona Public Service, said a number of trees snapped under the weight of the wet, heavy snow, taking powerlines down as they fell. Workers from Payson, Phoenix and Flagstaff worked around the clock to restore electric service as quickly as possible.


"As of Wednesday night, there were three areas still out of service," Spencer said.


Shadow Rim Ranch was turned back on at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, and power to Bonita Creek was restored at 2:37 a.m.


The only area still in the dark as of Thursday afternoon, Spencer said, was Bear Flats. "We expect to have that area in service by the end of (Thursday)," he said.


While the out-of-town crews head back home this week, Spencer said there is still much work to be done on the Rim country's power system.


"The repair effort is far from over," he said. "The storm caused a lot of damage to our distribution system." Spencer estimates the storm caused $250,000 in damage.


APS will use linemen aboard helicopters to make visual inspections of the powerlines affected by the storm in an effort to find weak points that would eventually lead to more power outages, he said.


"We're going to proactively locate the weakened points and fix them before the next storm," he said.


The next storm isn't, however, on the immediate horizon, Deming said.


"For any kind of far-range forecast, the National Weather Service isn't saying," she said. "I used to consult the Farmer's Almanac, but not anymore. The Almanac said we were supposed to have a wet November and December, so who knows." The Rim country only received a trace of rain during those two months.


Deming does, however, predict a warm, sunny weekend for the Rim country.

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