CondolenceDisasterNorth America

Storms dump heavy snowfall in northern Arizona after leaving California a muddy mess

PHOENIX (AP) — Heavy snow shut down parts of major interstates in northern Arizona on Thursday while low-lying clouds delayed dozens of flights in Phoenix, after storms earlier this week battered California and left a muddy mess.

The mountainous region of northern Arizona recorded 2 feet (61 centimeters) of snowfall or more in some locations with more expected into the weekend. Snow, ice and whiteout conditions forced partial closures of Interstates 40 and 17 in and around Flagstaff, northern Arizona’s largest city. I-17 later reopened but portions of I-40 remained closed Thursday night.

Dennis Fritsch, a trucker, was enroute from Georgia to Reno, Nevada, where he has a delivery due Friday. He pulled over at a truck stop along I-40 in Bellemont, Arizona, anticipating the roadway would be shut down after the temperature dropped and the sun disappeared“It’s pretty brutal, actually,” he said.

Longtime Bellemont resident Rick Schuler, who was clearing his and a neighbor’s driveway, was taking it in stride as his dog, Dakota, ran around in deep snow.

“Just enjoying this beautiful weather, plowing snow, playing with the dog, enjoying it,” he said.

Schools around northern Arizona, including Northern Arizona University, called snow days.

Farther south, rain hit the state’s desert regions. A low cloud ceiling briefly shut down all flights in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — the state’s largest airport. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for 45 minutes Thursday morning, delaying more than 100 flights, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. The rainy weather also disrupted the first-round play at the Phoenix Open golf tournament.

In California, the clear skies over most of the state were welcomed after days of wind, rain and heavy snowfall that caused power outages, street flooding and hundreds of destructive mudslides. The extremely wet weather marked a major turnabout from a very slow start to winter.

It was prime ski weather in the Sierra Nevada, where more snow fell Thursday at one Lake Tahoe ski resort and at Mammoth Mountain south of Yosemite National Park. Mammoth had already reported as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow since Sunday.

By Associated Press

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