Sudden Storm: 7 Inches Of Snow Falls In Payson, 10 Inches In Strawberry


Fire and police departments in the Rim Country had a busy weekend as a major snowstorm arrived in two phases.

The National Weather Service reported that Payson received seven inches of snow over the weekend.


A coyote runs across Payson Golf Course atop of a fresh blanket of snow Sunday afternoon. A sudden two-phased snowstorm closed highways and caught Rim Country residents by surprise.

"This was a pretty strong winter storm for Payson," said National Weather Service forecaster Dan White.

The first wave of snow arrived Friday evening, and, after tapering off for a few hours, a second snowstorm arrived.

Payson Police Commander Don Engler said from midnight on Sunday to 10 a.m. Monday, officers responded to 97 storm-related incidents.

He said many vehicles were sliding off streets because of the ice that froze overnight.

Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Whetten said there were a number of accidents, but no major injuries or fatalities.

There were a few accidents near Mount Ord, resulting in the closure of the Beeline Highway as the vehicles were removed, the roads plowed and cinders and salt were put down by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Oxbow Hill -- between Payson and Rye -- Whetten said, was a troubling spot as vehicles were sliding on the ice on Highway 87.

"It got to be impassable," the DPS officer said. "We had to pull 18-wheelers up the hill."

After towing the trucks to the parking lot of the Mazatzal Casino, officers told the drivers they would have to wait out the storm.

The Beeline Highway from the Highway 188 turnoff to the Bush Highway was closed for three hours because of the amount of snow that was falling.

Payson Battalion Fire Chief Tom Fife said it was an extremely busy weekend with all three departments running, including Diamond Star, Houston Mesa and Payson.

Fife said most of the incidents they responded to were minor injuries with slips and falls.

The Payson Fire Department assisted in the closure of the Beeline Highway.

"Ambulances were stretched to the limit," Fife said.

Mike Peters, an emergency medical technician from the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department said the most serious accident in Pine was a five-car crash on north Highway 87, one-fourth of a mile outside Pine.

This accident resulted in the highway being shut down for a short time.

There were 12 cars on Sunday that had to be towed after sliding off roads and streets, Peters said.

The National Weather Service reported that Strawberry received more than 10 inches of snow over the weekend.

Peters said businesses did not appear to be affected as most remained open throughout the storm.

"I do not think it was a big deal. The ones who slid off the road did not have four-wheel drive."

White said this storm is over. It moved out completely Monday evening.

Today, Tuesday, the NWS predicted clear skies and a high of 49 degrees.

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