Storm Tests Rim Travelers

Snow will snarl roads through Wednesday

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For those lulled into believing a La Niña winter means no storms, Monday morning proved that assumption wrong.

By 10 a.m., the skies opened up and the snow started falling.

The storm quickly caused a number of slide-offs around the Rim Country, including several near Pine-Strawberry, said P-S Fire Chief David Staub. Luckily, since then, there have been no wrecks in the area, he said.

The same held true in Star Valley, where Fire Chief Gary Hatch said they have been surprised by the lack of accidents.

One driver did lose control off Houston Mesa Road Monday, his truck ending up on a boulder.

The storm was enough to close area schools after transportation officials drove the roads around 2 a.m. and decided to call a snow day. Parents got computerized telephone and Internet notices of the closure after about 6 a.m. This is the second time this year the district has used the automated system.

The winter storm caused a number of intermittent road closures, including from Colcord Road on Highway 260 up to the Rim Tuesday morning, Hatch said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning for northern and central Arizona for Monday starting at 5 a.m. through 5 a.m. Wednesday.

“There is a large, strong low pressure system that will be moving across Arizona through Wednesday. As that approaches, we will see the heaviest precipitation tonight (Monday) through Tuesday,” said Daryl Onton, meteorologist with the NWS.

In Pine, residents reported upwards of 10 inches, enough to close most residential streets. Luckily, the power remained on.

In Payson, several inches of snow fell overnight Monday, dusting the trees, but leaving most roads passable.

By Wednesday, the storm will move to the east, but until then, the Payson area could see two to four inches of snow.

For snowfall and winter weather reports, visit the NWS Web site, www.wrh.noaa.gov/ fgz/.

Road conditions

The winter storm warning calls for severe weather and dangerous driving conditions. DPS warned that overnight and morning low temperatures could cause a hard freeze making highways extremely slippery. DPS asked travelers to avoid traveling to the northern part of Arizona if possible.

If residents must travel, DPS suggests drivers carry food, water, warm blankets and extra clothes in case of an emergency. Also, make sure others know your destination, time of departure and arrival.

Watch for ice, especially on bridges and overpasses. If conditions make driving too dangerous or the car breaks down, stay in the vehicle. Run the engine and heater for short amounts of time and crack a window to avoid carbon monoxide build up, DPS said.

Snow report

For those interested in hitting the slopes to shake off cabin fever, Sunrise Park Resort reports a base of 12 to 36 inches before the storm. The resort expects to see six to 10 inches of snow by tonight and five to eight tomorrow. Half of the parks lifts opened last weekend and by Wednesday, Sunrise will open Apache Peak.

Flagstaff’s Snowbowl reports a base of 12 inches at the lower elevations to 23 inches up higher. By Wednesday, operators expect snow and rain with an accumulation of five to seven inches above 5,500 feet.

The Flagstaff Nordic Center offers 25 miles of cross-country ski trails. While not enough snow had fallen to open the trails by this past weekend, the current storm could drop enough snow to open trails.

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