AP NEWS

The Latest: Flagstaff airport beats one-day snow record

February 22, 2019
1 of 5
Frank Van Buren, the manager of a travel center, gives direction to semi-truck drivers who are pulling off Interstate 40 in Bellemont, Arizona, on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Feb. 21, 2019. Schools across northern Arizona canceled classes and some government offices decided to close amid a winter storm that's expected to dump heavy snow in the region. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on Arizona weather (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

The Flagstaff airport has beat its all-time daily record for snowfall set more than a century ago.

The National Weather Service says the airport had received 31.6 inches of snow as of Thursday evening. The record set in 1915 was 31 inches.

Forecasters say the total will climb with several more hours of snowfall expected.

Kachina Village south of Flagstaff also had more than 31 inches of snow. Many locations got nearly 2 feet.

Prescott, Payson and Heber-Overgaard had about a foot.

Precipitation came in the form of rain in the state’s desert areas. A flood advisory was in effect for Maricopa and Pinal counties until 11 p.m. Thursday.

The weather service said light to moderate rain is flooding washes and causing water to pond on roadways.

4:35 p.m.

The National Weather Service is throwing cold water on reports of snow in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale.

Several people on Thursday posted photos on Twitter from Scottsdale, Cave Creek and other nearby communities showing the ground and trees blanketed in white.

Meteorologist Bianca Hernandez says snow is only appearing at elevations of 3,000 feet (914 meters) or higher, making these suburbs unlikely to receive snow.

What people are seeing is more likely a form of precipitation called “graupel.”

It’s the product of water droplets collecting on falling snow flakes. Once it gets into lower elevations, it resembles hail.

Hernandez says it can look like snow once it hits the ground.

The cold weather is the result of a storm hitting the Southwest.

___

3:45 p.m.

Northbound lanes of Interstate 17 near Camp Verde are closed as a storm continues to dump snow in the region.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says the closure starts about 12 miles north of Camp Verde. The department says it’s unclear when the interstate will reopen.

Southbound lanes are unaffected.

Transportation officials advised drivers Thursday to stay home during the storm, or drive slowly and be prepared for possible closures.

The American Red Cross has opened shelters in Kingman, and near Strawberry and Pine.

11:20 a.m.

A massive snowstorm has forced a shutdown of Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.

Airport director Barney Helmick says the airport’s only runway closed around 10:30 a.m. Thursday because the visibility level is “zero.”

American Airlines, the only major airline out of that airport, has also canceled all flights.

Helmick says he has no idea when the runway will reopen. A crew of about four people is working to clear the snow but it keeps getting more intense.

The storm has forced closures of schools and businesses across northern Arizona.

State transportation officials are warning against driving in the region.

The National Weather Service in Flagstaff reports that the area has received nearly 9 inches (23 centimeters) of snow since 5 a.m.

___

10:55 a.m.

Eastbound Interstate 40 has been closed in northwestern Arizona because of a storm dumping heavy snow across much of the state’s high country.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said Thursday that all eastbound traffic on I-40 in northwestern Arizona should head south on State Route 95 to use Interstate 10.

Portions of some other non-interstate highways in northern Arizona also are closed because of weather conditions.

Traffic on Interstate 17 south of Flagstaff has been described as slowing to a crawl.

---

10:15 a.m.

State transportation officials say Interstates 40 and 17 in northern Arizona remained open Thursday morning but that a winter storm dumping heavy snow on the region was “really bringing traffic to a crawl” on the two highways.

The National Weather Service said snow was falling at the rate of up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) per hour late Thursday morning south of Flagstaff where there were reports of over 1 foot (0.3 meter) of snow.

The state Department of Transportation advised people to avoid travel and said drivers traveling eastbound on I-40 in eastern California or western Arizona should head south to take Interstate 10 to avoid closures, delays and extreme winter weather.

The department also said people who must travel need to be prepared to spend extra time in their vehicles and have a fully charted cellphone, full tank of gas, extra clothes as well as food and water.

---

7 a.m.

Schools are closed in cities across northern Arizona’s high country due to heavy snowfall from a storm that the National Weather Service warned Thursday “is just getting started.”

The weather service reported 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow in Flagstaff by 6 a.m. and forecasts called for about 2 feet (0.6 meter) of snow in Flagstaff, Prescott, Show Low, Kingman and Payson through Saturday night.

The Arizona Department reported Interstate 40 and U.S. 93 closures at locations near Kingman due to snow and ice, and the department recommended avoiding travel in the region, saying “this is not your typical storm.”

Public schools, including Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, were closed in Flagstaff, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Payson and Show Low.

NAU officials made the decision to cancel classes in anticipation of a significant snowfall.