Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Batten Down the Hatches: Top 5 Flagstaff Weather Event of All Time

Hundred-year-old Ponderosa pine snapped in recent Flagstaff wind/snow storm.

Flagstaff, AZ. - Could this be worse than the snow storm of 1967? After two snow storms have hit the area this week, the City of Flagstaff  continues to remind all citizens to be prepared for a significant snow event over the next two days. The National Weather Service is calling this one of the top five of all time, weather event for the greater Flagstaff area.  The most intense part of the storm is expected to bring heavy snow and possible rain on Thursday and Friday.

BE PREPARED.  Citizens should already be prepared in case of snow-ins and power outages in these storms.

Be prepared to stay home for several days. Please check on your neighbors and let friends and families know that you are okay. Items you should have at home include: extra bottled water and non-perishable food, prescription medication, flashlights, battery-powered radios and extra batteries.  Anticipate needs for infants, elderly, special needs family members and pets. Your vehicle should be winterized with snow tires, chains, blankets, water, a first aid kit, ice scraper, extra clothes, and the gas tank at least half full. You should also have enough extra gas for snow blowers, generators, and gas containers. 

SNOW LOAD ON ROOFS AND VENTS. Clearing snow off of roof tops should be considered for structures with flat roofs and ice buildup or drainage problems.  Buildings and carport canopies with flat roofs; especially commercial buildings and mobile homes, are in danger of collapse until their roof weight loads are reduced.

When clearing snow, first assess the safety of the roof. Look for obvious signs of sagging, cracking, leaking, or other structural deformities.  If deformities exist, call 911 and evacuate the building.  If safe to do so, try to clear snow and ice from ladders being held in place by other workers.  If it is necessary to get onto the roof in order to clear it, make sure that it is safe and work first along the edges to clear the snow. Once the edges are cleared, work inward from there. Try to clear drains (and keep them clear) so that ice does not accumulate on roofs.

Vent pipes for fuel-fired appliances may become obstructed with snow and could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide inside the building.  However, most vent pipes are constantly warm and should remain relatively clear even with large snow amounts.  If necessary, try to clear pipes from ladders with hand tools (rakes or push-brooms).  Avoid climbing on steep roofs.  If carbon monoxide is suspected, call 911. For all emergencies call 911. For roof and vent pipe questions, contact the Building Department:  779-7610. For structural issues, contact the Building Dept or Fire Dept:  779-7610 or 779-7688

POWER OUTAGES & SHELTERS.  APS is staged and prepared to address possible power outages due to the pending storm.  Please report all power not assume that APS is aware of them.

Residential power outages 1-800-253-9405
Business power outages 1-800-253-9407

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army and also prepared to open shelters in the community if necessary.
SAND BAGS. The City of Flagstaff Public Works Division will have sand and sand bags available at the Thorpe Park Softball Fields area beginning tomorrow (Thursday) morning. You must bring your own shovel and fill your own bags.

TRAVEL. Severe weather conditions will impact travel.  We encourage all citizens to stay off the roads as much as possible throughout the storms. If you need to know about interstate travel and road conditions/closures please call 511.

PLOWING.  City snow plows will run continuously throughout the storm, however citizens are reminded that the main roadways will be the first priority for plowing and it could be quite some time before plows are able to work in residential areas.  Please do not park on Flagstaff streets between midnight and 7:00 a.m.  Please help your neighbors clear snow and snow berms whenever possible.

TRASH & RECYCLING.  Trash and recycling residential pick up service has been canceled for Friday. The Cinder Lake Landfill will also be closed on Friday.

EMERGENCIES AND OTHER INFORMATION NUMBERS.  If you have an emergency, please call 911.  Snow plow crews and emergency service personnel will prioritize all emergency notifications and respond accordingly.  If you have non-emergency questions please call the Coconino County Message Center at 1-888-679-8393.  Volunteers will answer the phone from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.  A recorded message will be available off hours.

COORDINATION  OF AGENCIES.  The City and multiple agencies around Northern Arizona are working together to address all safety issues related to our residents and this storm.  Officials in all agencies are meeting on a regular basis to address community conditions and response.


Vagabonding Lulu is an Arizona travel writer based in Flagstaff, AZ. She shares travel advice and news of the area.

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