Storm brings blanket of snow in High Country

Posted at 6:51 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 20:53:22-05

A winter storm dropped snow across Arizona on Monday, from the state's high country down to the desert region bordering Mexico.

The Flagstaff area had more than 9 inches of snow Monday evening with the possibility of around a foot total before the storm moves out. Enough snow fell in Nogales and Sierra Vista to lightly coat the ground, weather forecasters said.

Traffic moved along slowly on icy and snow-packed highways in northern Arizona, complicated by strong winds that limited visibility at times. The storm hit late Sunday night, creating whiteout conditions on Interstate 40 and forcing motorists to turn on their hazard lights to spot vehicles ahead.

Residents in northern Arizona also witnessed a rare weather phenomenon when thunder and lightning strike with heavy snowfall.

State Route 260 near Overgaard was closed temporarily because of snow drifts Monday. Authorities responded to multiple slide-offs and collisions, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said Monday. Heavy rain factored into a crash with serious injuries on Interstate 17 near Black Canyon City, he said

The Flagstaff and Prescott school districts canceled classes Monday, and some government offices delayed the start of the work day.

Tsaile on the Navajo Nation had about 10 inches of snow Monday morning, Alpine had 7 inches and Prescott had 3. Not much more was expected late Monday, the National Weather Service said.

The storm is expected to move out of the state by Tuesday morning. The concern then will turn to temperatures below freezing at night in western and southern Arizona, and close to zero in northern Arizona, forecasters said.

"Whatever falls to the ground is going to stick and just be a sheet of ice," said meteorologist Robert Bohlin.

The forecast calls for warming temperatures late in the week.