Big snow storm blankets Northern Arizona

VERDE VALLEY -- An unusually heavy rain and snow storm over the weekend dashed outdoor plans, unless you have a sled or skis and it caused bumper cars on Northern Arizona highways.

The storm blew in with high winds late Saturday. By Monday morning, snow was still falling across Arizona, but the storm had reached the Plains States, causing havoc there.

Most local police and fire agencies in the Verde Valley were not severely affected. Snow would fall, but temperatures were not low enough to create ice. The real trouble was at the higher elevations.

Montezuma-Rimrock crews were called to MP 307, about eight miles north of the Sedona interchange. Four passenger vehicles and a slow-moving gas tanker crashed together in icy and snowy conditions Sunday afternoon. The vehicles suffered moderate damage and one motorist was transported to Flagstaff Medical Center with back injuries. Seatbelts contributed to the small number of injuries in the crash, according to the fire company report.

ADOT and DPS got hammered by the mid-March storm. DPS says I-40 was closed by Saturday night, from east of Kingman to Winslow. The Interstate re-opened and closed again. I-17 was also closed for a period north of the Sedona exit.

One multi-vehicle crash was particularly bad Saturday morning with 20 people and commercial vehicles involved in the wreck east of Flagstaff.

DPS says ADOT "worked feverishly" to keep the main highways clear.

Flagstaff City officials got through the storm with only 16 accidents, but expected a mob of vehicles along SR 180 Monday afternoon on their way to snow play and ski slopes at Snowbowl.

The ski area in the San Francisco Peaks received a storm total of 53 inches by Monday morning.

While higher elevations around Clarkdale received three or more inches of the white stuff, Sedona got a total of 9.5 inches.

Areas of Prescott received 21 inches of snow.

Some area of Flagstaff received 27 inches, the daily record at the Flagstaff Airport, formerly at 8.7 inches, was smashed Sunday with a daily record for March 18th of 19.5 inches, according to Meteorologist Chris Outler.

Outler says the weather service does not expect another large storm like this in the foreseeable future. Perhaps smaller ones, "We have waited all winter for a storm like this."

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