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Heavy snow pummels Flagstaff, shuts down busy northern Arizona interstates

Flagstaff, Arizona – About two feet of snow led authorities to close Interstates 40 and 17 through the mountains of northern Arizona on Thursday. There's more on the way.

“Conditions have changed in the past hour to the point where we are considering defining whiteout conditions across northern Arizona,” FOX Weather meteorologist Nicole Valdez said while reporting from Flagstaff, Arizona. Ta. “And the problems with that are piling up quickly.”

One of the biggest impacts was on regional travel.

“I got an emergency alert on my cell phone here in downtown Flagstaff. Eastbound Interstate 40 is already closed because visibility is just impossible on the freeway there,” she said. continued. “That means things are getting worse and worse as the days go by.”

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff wrote this morning. Forecast discussion: “Heavy precipitation is expected with 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour,” according to weather models along Interstate 40 and Interstate 17 between Prescott and Flagstaff. It shows that snowfall amounts of up to 3 inches per hour are likely in some places.

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Spotters report a total of 19 inches of snow has fallen in downtown Flagstaff, and a winter storm warning remains in place through Thursday night. Flagstaff is expected to see an additional 8 to 16 inches throughout the day, with some surrounding areas potentially seeing even more.

“We could see another two feet of snow before this snow is gone northwest of the city,” FOX Weather meteorologist Amy Freese said.

This storm could be Flagstaff's biggest snowstorm since then.”epic stormAccording to the FOX Prediction Center, 40.8 inches of snow fell in February 2019.

“Please stay safe and stay off the roads throughout northern Arizona today,” NWS Flagstaff urged.

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The heavy snow will stop in the evening, but the wind will continue

The heaviest snow is expected to fall into the afternoon, but even with less snow, visibility will not improve. Strong winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour can blow away snow already on the ground, creating near-whiteout conditions in some areas. The arrival of very low temperatures after a cold front passes will prevent the snow from melting.

The snow falls at an unusually low elevation of about 4,000 feet and accumulates up to 4,500 feet. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, Flagstaff experiences frequent snowfall in the winter, but heavy snowfall is a multi-annual event in lower elevation areas.

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“It's not that unusual in the highlands of northern Arizona to have 20 inches or more of snow every two years,” Valdez explained.

Still, Flagstaff saw record snowfall on Wednesday, with 13 inches recorded downtown. Thanks to the snow day, the children have been playing in the snow for two days in a row.

Officials in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah are warning drivers to avoid traveling to mountainous areas due to heavy snow and strong winds.

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But ski resorts couldn't be happier.Arizona's snow bowl There's good news for snow-hungry Phoenix, which has already seen 26 inches of snow in just 24 hours.

“Flagstaff, we’re talking about 6,000 feet of elevation difference with Phoenix. But a lot of people who live in the Valley want to hear it snow here. -17 And let's play in the snow for a few hours, okay? ” Valdez said. “But the Arizona Department of Transportation says the snow we're getting here at the rate it's snowing can reduce visibility and make conditions even more dangerous. Add cars to the mix, and you'll see cars on the road.” I'm going to take off.'' It's very dangerous to be on the side of the highway looking at the snow and thinking about playing in the snow. ”

On Wednesday, ADOT reported multiple accidents and road closures along Interstate 40 due to the first snowfall. Road conditions won't get much better because snowplows won't be able to keep up.

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