Forecasters Predict More Precipitation


With one storm down, weather forecasters predict more to come.

Ken Daniel, a National Weather Service Meteorologist, said that Payson and much of northern Arizona could expect to see more storm fronts from California Friday night well into next week.


A Payson Police officer stops to help a driver dig out of the snow in the center lane on South Beeline Highway Wednesday morning. Snow plows cleared the main thoroughfare through town, but left turns were a still a challenge for many drivers.

"It's kind of a messy situation as we head into this weekend and the earlier portion of next week," he said. "There is going to be a chance of precipitation in the forecast from late (Friday) into the early portions of next week's forecast."

Daniel said it was doubtful that there would be any snow through Friday in Payson as much of it would fall at higher elevations -- between 6,000 and 6,500 feet.

Payson residents should watch for flooding though as the weekend approaches; the heaviest rains are expected Saturday night into Sunday, he said.

To be safe, residents should stay tuned to local news reports to keep up with changing forecasts.

Individuals living around creeks should be especially careful, he said, and should not attempt low-water crossings.


Rim country schools were closed Wednesday for a snow day. These neighborhood children built what they called the largest snowman in town at the Rumsey Park soccer field. This was the first snow day of the school year for Payson schools.

First storm of 2005

Payson was already hit with about 8 inches of snow on Wednesday, according to measurements taken by Anna Mae Deming, a national weather observer.

Despite 2 inches of snow earlier in December, Deming said the storms are good for Payson and the surrounding areas, which have been suffering from drought for the past several years.

"We desperately need this storm. We've been in drought conditions for several long years and this is just a start," she said. "I'm just so grateful for it. It just means so much to everybody, the economy, well ... all of Payson."

The same treacherous road conditions that stopped commercial transportation, made many Payson students happy , according to Superintendent Herb Weissensels, when school was canceled Wednesday.

Weissensels said that icy roads Tuesday night led to the cancellation of classes with the safety of both students and staff in mind. He said there are two snow days built into the calendar so students shouldn't have to worry about making up days in May.

Cinch Hook closed

Cinch Hook, a popular sledding area north of Strawberry, remains closed despite 8 inches of snow Wednesday night.

Patty Beauchant, an office automation assistant at the Blue Ridge Ranger Station, said there is not enough funding for staffing and plowing costs.

She said residents who use the parking area near Cinch Hook are in danger of being ticketed and fined anywhere from $50 to $300 while it is closed.

Other areas beyond Cinch Hook may be opened by Arizona Department of Transportation, she said, but residents are not allowed to use the Cinch Hook area for parking or sledding.

County, state declare emergency

The Gila County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency due to flooding in the south and heavy snowfall in the north.

That declaration makes it possible for Gila County to recoup, from the state and federal government, its costs involved in providing emergency services, snow removal and flood clean up, according to county manager John Nelson.

With more bad weather expected, Nelson said the declaration was open-ended and will remain in place until he takes it back to the board.

Gov. Janet Napolitano also declared Gila County a state of emergency.

The governor amended the Dec. 29 declaration of emergency for Coconino and Yavapai counties to include Gila and Navajo counties Tuesday.

The state's Emergency Operations Center was also activated Tuesday to monitor the area's storm activity.

The amendment authorizes Gila and Navajo counties to receive funding for personnel, local government infrastructure repairs and other approved expenses, a spokesperson said. The governor released $200,000 from the State Emergency Fund to pay for emergency-related expenses and damage from the storm.

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