FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Portions of two interstate highways were among multiple routes that remained closed Tuesday morning due to difficult driving conditions from winter weather in Arizona’s high country.
Winter storm warnings or advisories remained in effect in many parts of Arizona and the National Weather Service said heavy snow was falling from Flagstaff to Heber.
In Nevada, higher-elevation outlying areas of metro Las Vegas got light snowfall on Jan. 26. Up to 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) was expected in some places before the storm was expected to taper off by midday, the National Weather Service said.
The Arizona Department of Transportation said closures included eastbound Interstate 40 at State Route 89 in Ash Fork.
Interstate 17 northbound reopened at State Route 179 at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. Earlier in the day, ADOT tweeted a video about the road conditions.
Other highways with partial closures as of Tuesday included SR 89 from Chino Valley to I-40 in northern Arizona and U.S. 80 in Bisbee in southeastern Arizona.
The Transportation Department urged drivers to postpone travel in the high country until the latest storm has passed and says those who do travel should be prepared for extended time on the road.
Preliminary snowfall reports from the latest storm included 14.2 inches (36 centimeters) at the Flagstaff airport and 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) at Payson between Sunday night and late Monday, the weather service said.
Highway closures, delays:
- State Route 260 from east of Camp Verde to SR 87
- State Route 89A between Sedona and Interstate 17; and from Jerome to Clarkdale
- State Route 89 from north of Peeples Valley to just south of Prescott
- State Route 288 westbound between SR 188 and Young
Statement from ADOT:
"Extreme winter conditions have resulted in very difficult driving conditions. ADOT continues to encourage drivers to postpone travel in the high country until the storm has passed and snowplows can finish plowing the roads. As temperatures drop overnight, roads will become icy and travel may be challenging.
Those who decide to travel in the storm should be prepared for an extended time on the road and use chains or 4-wheel drive. Remember to slow down, leave extra room behind the vehicle ahead of you, and pack an emergency kit containing a fully charged cell phone, warm clothing, blankets, food and water, medications and sand or kitty litter in case you get stuck in the snow."
Storm cleanup efforts continue
The storm that came through Arizona on Jan. 25 has left some damage in its wake, including downed powerlines in a Northwest Valley neighborhood that left thousands of customers without electricity overnight.
"The power went out and we came here and it was mayhem. I’d never seen anything like this," said Scott Vanderlinden.
"Looks like tornado action," said Barry Millard.
More than 27,000 APS customers in the Metro Phoenix area were without electricity for several hours at one point. Some residents even spent the night without power.
"Luckily, I got some dry firewood," said Vanderlinden. "I have a fireplace, and we were doing some glamping."
Meanwhile, an army of about 30 APS crew members worked around the clock. Power was restored to nearly all customers by the morning of Jan. 26.
Rain/flood safety tips
The American Red Cross' tips for heavy rain situations and flood safety:
- Turn around, don’t drown! If you must drive and you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way.
- If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
- Tune in to your local radio, NOAA radio, or news channels for the latest updates.
- If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly.
- Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe.
- If power lines are down, do not step in puddles or standing water.
- If power is out, use a flashlight. Do not use any open flame as alternate lighting.
Preparing for a severe thunderstorm
The American Red Cross' tips for preparing for a severe thunderstorm:
- Put together an emergency kit.
- Know your community’s evacuation plan.
- Create a household disaster plan and practice it.
- Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Discuss thunderstorm safety with members of your household. Be aware that a thunderstorm could produce flooding.
- Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be a place where there are no windows, skylights, or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail and cause damage or injury.
State Route 89A at Oak Creek on Jan. 26, 2021 (ADOT)