Winter storm drops rain, snow on Arizona - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Winter storm drops rain, snow on Arizona

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It was the kind of day that had people running for cover -- breaking out their hoodies, draping their coats over their heads -- fending off the raindrops any which way they could -- but not Anita Hall.

She wasn't fazed by the weather.

"I am originally from Michigan.. people are freaking out around here.. I used to live in Florida and they did the same thing," she said.

So in Michigan this would be nothing?

"Nothing," she said.

Hall sauntered off in shorts and a T-shirt.  The rest of us were doing our best to keep mother nature at bay.

At the TA travel center near Palo Verde, it was cold and raining, but resourceful residents of the valley of the sun were up to the challenge.

"Well, this is a trash bag raincoat.. I think it could catch on.. out in the desert, I don't' keep raincoats very often.  My daughter's got my only one on right now," said Tonopah resident Mark Sloane.


The northern Arizona city is expected to see several inches of snow from this storm and it's been transformed into a winter wonderland.

Snow that fell Friday morning was very heavy and wet -- add strong winds and cold temperatures to that mix.

Snowplows were out in full force in town, but also on Interstate 17 heading into Flagstaff from Phoenix.  The crews did a pretty good job of keeping things fairly clear for motorists.

Residents here in Flagstaff are ready to enjoy a winter weekend, telling FOX 10 they're excited for the snow.

"We definitely need it.. it's good.  We have been so dry, it's horrible, so it's good that we are getting some snow finally," said Belinda Cochran.

Some others in the area stated:

"It's just exciting to have seasons in Flagstaff.. buckle down, hunker down at home."
"Love seeing our peaks with the snow on them. It's just good for our forest and we get the moisture.. it's beautiful."
"Play in my backyard and have hot chocolate in my house."

Up to eight inches of snow is expected in Flagstaff this weekend. If you're heading up, the Arizona Department of Transportation has all the latest road conditions -- call 511 for that information.


Plenty of snow is falling at Arizona Snowbowl as well.  The ski resort is planning to open next Friday, but if you can't wait until next weekend, Sunrise Park Ski Resort in the White Mountains opens this weekend.



It was a frustrating morning for many drivers on the west side of the valley after a major freeway was closed because of rain.

How would you like to be this driver?  Stuck in the muddy rain water, the driver tried to get on to the Loop 303 at Glendale Avenue when water from the bridge almost covered his car.

"That can occur when as water accumulates and breaks through a retention basin, that may be in place that water can break free in some instances that could be what happened," said ADOT's Tim Tait.

The area floods when it rains hard in this area.

This part of the Loop 303 is still under construction.  The drainage system isn't even finished and that's why it floods when there is heavy rain and often the area is closed as it was on Friday.

Tait hopes a trench will help.

"The first thing we are doing is cutting a trench across Glendale Avenue that will help drain water.  We will be able to clean the roadway."

The area is a muddy mess.  There's a lot of clean up before it can open.  The good news is that the construction on Loop 303 will be over next summer, making it easier to drive in the area during the rain.


This storm is really hitting all over the state.  People are seeing rain, snow and even fog.

Slick roads and thick fog were seen on the way to Payson.

"Started raining last night.  Been coming down ever since and hopefully we'll get a lot more in the last 24 hours," said Joe McKenzie.

Muddy roads and rock slides near State Route 87 and Mesa-Houston Road.

Payson received more than 2 inches of rain and some of the streets have flooded.

At Dimi Espresso in Payson, cold, rainy weather is good for business.

"It actually goes up.. people come in for our hot drinks, our warm pastries," said Tom Plets.

When asked what he thought when he heard it was going to rain all weekend, Plets replied, "I like working when it's raining. It's such a treat. It's a different sort of atmosphere and the increased business is always welcome too."

Peter Westrom said, "Yeah, I wasn't expecting so much so soon, but this was great."

This weekend's storm is kicking off the start of the holiday season.

"The next storm will probably be snow," said Westrom.  "Prefer rain early on.. the snow is a little more messy and difficult driving conditions, but it's coming.. it's coming soon."



Not a lot of wind on Friday, but the heavy downpour did bring a huge tree down near 28th Street and Osborn Road.

Cutting their losses, folks in the neighborhood cleaned up after the latest storm.

"Cutting, sweating, pretty much it, said Tim Vandergrift.  "It was a huge tree.."

For about three hours, Osborn was closed in both directions when the rain took a tree down.

"We've got floods, flooding streets, we've got trees down," said Jim Todd.  "This is our third call actually for trees, so it's a productive day."

Todd, who works for the City of Phoenix, said "Pretty bad, you know, we saw accidents, even as we were on the scenes.. cleaning up the debris. People were just knocking into eachother, so be careful out there."

A drenching the valley needed, though the extra work to clean up -- not so welcome.

There were several fender benders along Osborn and 28th Street during the clean up.



Whether it's ADOT trying to keep the roads clear and dry to DPS responding to accident calls, we got a behind the scenes look at what it takes to keep our roads safe during a winter storm.

On Friday, both agencies were slammed with calls and problems on the highways.

ADOT tracks the weather using 220 cameras to get a bird's eye view of the traffic and accidents on the slippery roads.

"Speeds don't seem to drop when it rains.  That's part of our problem," said DPS Officer Craig Baum.

From Baum's point of view, the first stop, an accident -- the goal is to move the cars off the highway.

"ADOT sometimes helps us because of their cameras here on the freeway and they see us blocking collisions they can call it in," he said.

On his second stop, it was to try and keep an accident from happening.

Baum guided a truck to the right shoulder of the road.

"When all these cars are coming, they can barely see," he said.

At our third stop, a driver went straight into a tree instead of getting on the freeway.  Apparently there were no injuries here, but they're definitely going to have to call a tow truck to get out of there.

Baum's advice to drivers: it's pretty simple, slow down and keep your distance -- you really don't know what lies ahead -- and you can bet if you are driving in these rainy conditions, you'll come across an accident -- you just don't want to be part of one.


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