Snow Leaves Heavy Blanket

Snow closes schools: kids go sledding instead


School kids in the Rim Country got an extra day off this week as school districts closed all local schools after snow blanketed the ground Monday morning.

Highway 87 was closed Monday night at 11 p.m. due to slippery conditions, but was reopened around 7:50 Tuesday morning.


Gilberto Mendoza and his dog, Cinnamon, enjoy sliding down the hill at Green Valley Park on Monday morning.

Rain and snow across Arizona yesterday, Monday Feb. 4, created hazardous driving conditions and closed highways all over the state. A rollover accident on Highway 87 near Pine Monday morning closed all northbound lanes until 4 p.m.

Nearly five inches of snow fell in Payson between Sunday, Feb. 3 and Tuesday, Feb. 5, delighting area school children because they got their first snow day of the year Monday.

Schools in Payson reopened on Tuesday with a one-and-a-half hour delay.

Schools in Pine reopened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, but they were still closed in Tonto Village and at the Shelby Charter School.

Residents in the higher elevations of Pine reported more than two feet of snow.

Official reports from Payson indicate the area received at least five inches of snow in town, and even more in outlying areas.

According to weather reports, partly cloudy to sunny conditions will return through the rest of the week with highs in the mid forties to mid-fifties by the end of the week.

On Monday morning, four-wheel drive or snow chains were required on Highway 87 north near Home Depot, as well as Highway 260 east from Steve Coury Ford in Star Valley.

While the snow had motorists slipping and sliding sliding along the roads, some Payson residents took advantage of the first real snow of the year to go sledding at Green Valley Park.

Gilberto Mendoza has lived in Payson for four years and said he always enjoys a good snow, as does his companion -- his 4-year-old dog, Cinnamon.

Mendoza took Cinnamon, who he got from the Payson Humane Society, to the park because they both like to play in the snow.

"I live right across from the park here, so it's just so easy for us to come over," said Mendoza.

"We've been here one other time when it snowed and liked it, so we came today when we saw all the snow that fell since yesterday."

Cathy Stearns had her 9-year-old daughter, Taurean, with her at the park.

"I think it's awesome," said Taurean. "Look -- I can surf."

Cathy said they moved to Payson just last July from Tucson and that despite the change in the climate, they definitely like living in Payson.

"One of the reasons I like it is because there are seasons here," said Cathy.

Tasha Wallace, and her 6-year-old son, Dylan, also joined in the sledding fun at Green Valley Park Monday morning.

Dylan, a first-grade student at Payson Elementary School, couldn't stop to talk, he was having too much fun racing down the slope at the park.

Wallace said she and her family moved to Payson from the Valley a few years ago.

"We left to get out of the heat and traffic and everything else down there and to raise my kids here," she said.

Wallace also had her 2-year-old son Cody with her and said it was the first time Cody had been out to play in snow.

Around the area

A spokesperson with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff said eight to 10 inches of snow was reported in the Heber-Overgaard area and the same amount in Pine and Strawberry. Residents in the high elevations around Pine and Strawberry reported snow totals in excess of the official reports.

While the snow added up to a day off school and fun for some Payson residents, rain down in the Valley resulted in an accident that closed Highway 87 for nearly four hours yesterday, as reported on the Roundup Web site Monday.

A one-vehicle rollover accident at 11:15 a.m. yesterday morning, Monday Feb. 4, closed Highway 87 to all northbound traffic four miles north of the Bush Highway turnoff.

A spokesperson with DPS said a Swift Transportation tractor-trailer hauling 40,000 pounds of cardboard out of the Valley rolled over, closing all northbound lanes of Highway 87 near milepost marker 203.

The spokesperson said a tow truck was on the scene at 1 p.m., removing the tractor-trailer. It took crews several hours to remove debris from the roadway. Northbound lanes were reopened by 3 p.m. Monday.

There were no injuries in the accident and the cause is not yet known. No citations were issued, and are unlikely due to weather conditions, said a DPS official.

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