The intersection of I-40 and I-17 on Thursday. Both interstates closed at 6 pm.
In what the National Weather Service has called a "Top 5 Weather Event" for Flagstaff, AZ, snow continues to accumulate. Originally in effect until midnight tonight, severe winter storm warnings have been extended until noon MST Saturday.
A series of Pacific storms continue to pummel the state. Monday's storm dumped more than 12" of snow in the high country and locals in the low lands were warned of hazardous flash floods. Within the next twenty-four hours, the second storm dropped another 24" on top of the initial accumulation and areas schools closed.
After the third storm, Governor Jan Brewer declared a state of emergency for the entire state Thursday. The declaration releases $200,000 from the Arizona governor’s emergency funds to pay for emergency response and recovery expenses from heavy rain in lower elevations and deep snowfall in the mountains. An eight-year-old boy was swept away by floods near Mayer, AZ and is presumed dead.
Today, Arizona Snowbowl, the ski area perched high above Flagstaff, is closed due to extreme weather conditions including high winds and 57"-82" of new snow . The Coconino County Sheriff's Department is warning of avalanche dangers on the San Francisco Peaks. APS crews are coming in from around the state to help reinstate electrical service to residents and businesses such as Arizona Snowbowl that has been without power for quite some time.
Mund's Park, AZ snow berm on Wed., January 20 before AZ governor calls state emergency.
Some northern Arizonans report shoveling 70" - 80" of snow since the beginning of the week. "I can barely keep up with it," said local contractor Bobby Philpott. "I can't throw the snow much higher," added his friend from behind a seven-foot high pile of the white stuff.
Thursday morning snow brought this berm up, but afternoon rains eroded it to this level.
After the roof caved in at Bookman's used book store, officials condemned flat-roofed Flagstaff supermarkets. The of risks of heavy snow collapsing roofs on shoppers stock-piling for the extreme weather are too high. Currently, Fry's is the only grocery store open in Flagstaff as the community keeps trying to shovel out.
Closure sign on Flagstaff supermarket: "This building is deemed unsafe for human occupancy."
The National Weather Service reports (screaming at us in caps), "STORM SYSTEM TOTALS SINCE MONDAY EVENING ON THE WESTERN MOGOLLON RIM CURRENTLY RANGE FROM 40 TO 60 INCHES." The people of northern Arizona hope their snow shovels hold out until tomorrow at noon. Unless of course the severe winter storm warnings are extended. "I was at Hunt's Hardware to buy a snow shovel," said one shoveler. "Clerks were taking them out of the crate and handing them to the customers who were standing in line waiting for them to get unpacked."
Enjoy this article? Then click the "subscribe" button above this article. Stacey Wittig "Vagabonding Lulu" is an Arizona travel writer and Flagstaff hiker who enjoys sharing free travel tips and travel news about the Southwest USA . For Arizona hiking info click here.