Snow Doesn't Impact Payson's Groundwater Supply, But Helps Forest

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The first snow of 2006 is one for the record books. According to National Weather Observer Anna Mae Deming, approximately 3 feet of snow accumulated in Payson over the weekend. The National Weather Service in Flagstaff, as of late Sunday afternoon, reported 31 inches had fallen.

The snow will not have a big impact on Payson's water supply, said Mike Ploughe of the Payson Water Department. He said if there was about another month of snow -- though not quite as much -- it would help the groundwater levels.

"It should help the vegetation though," Ploughe said.

And it will help the forests, said Payson District Ranger Ed Armenta.

"We were going to institute full forest restrictions this week, but now the fire season will be pushed back a little, though we were already in it," Armenta said.

The existing no campfire/no smoking restrictions will be lifted, he said, but the situation will be monitored carefully.

While fire-related restrictions are being discontinued, caution in the forests is still recommended, Armenta said.

"We want people to be prepared with extra water and food and don't push it just because they have 4-wheel drive," he said.

Arizona Public Service had a fairly easy time with this storm, due to all the maintenance work that has been done, according to Jan Parsons, who is manager of the Payson area region.

Young lost power for about 12 hours, starting around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Repair crews could not get up State Route 260 to the Young Road until about 6 a.m., Parsons said.

There were small outages around Payson, said Wade Hartwigsen of APS. No poles or wires went down, he said.

"We sent our Snowcat to Globe to help bring five teenagers down off the mountain," Hartwigsen said.

Parsons said the Globe district's Snowcat was down, so the Gila County Sheriff's Office called the Payson district for help.

"There was 6 feet of snow on Pinal Mountain," she said. "Our guys did a good job. Everyone worked together. I am pleased we had so little trouble this time because of all the upgrades and improvements and tree trimming we've done."

The next few days will be mostly sunny, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Temperatures will be climbing through Friday, reaching the low 60s Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, though overnight lows will remain around freezing. Thursday it is expected to become partly cloudy with the chance of additional precipitation ranging from 10 to 20 percent, with the possibility of more snow mixed with rain on Saturday and the temperature dropping into the high 50s.

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