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Published: Monday, 3/19/2012

Winter storm dumps snow on Arizona, New Mexico

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Two Flagstaff, Ariz., residents try to clear their sidewalk even as snow continues to fall. A reporting service said 12 to 18 inches fell on the city Sunday, and a hard freeze made roads extremely slippery. Two Flagstaff, Ariz., residents try to clear their sidewalk even as snow continues to fall. A reporting service said 12 to 18 inches fell on the city Sunday, and a hard freeze made roads extremely slippery.
ARIZONA DAILY SUN Enlarge

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A winter storm and high winds struck parts of Arizona and New Mexico on Sunday, causing hazardous driving conditions, power outages, and school cancellations.

The fast-moving storm led the National Weather Service to place parts of northern New Mexico under a winter storm warning until midnight Monday as heavy snow from Arizona was expected to quickly blanket the area.

PNM Resources reported that about 31,000 Albuquerque-area customers were without power Sunday afternoon because of high winds.

A spokesman for the utility said emergency crews were working to restore power.

Heavy winds and blowing dust led to the closure of parts of I-10 in southern New Mexico because of low visibility.

A flight carrying the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team home after its loss in the NCAA tournament was delayed because of high winds.

Arizona Department of Transportation crews were fully deployed Sunday after heavy snow fell in Arizona from Flagstaff to the White Mountains.

The winter storm led officials to temporarily close I-40 in both directions as well as parts of I-17.

Both highways reopened Sunday afternoon.

Arizona Snowbowl reported 19 inches of snowfall, and the Flagstaff Nordic Center measured 12 to 18 inches of fresh snow overnight.

Storm totals in areas above 7,000 feet ranged from 12 to 22 inches.

Low temperatures caused a hard freeze on roads, making them extremely slippery.

Several truck drivers waited out the storm at travel centers, according to television reports.

The National Weather Service said Flagstaff and the surrounding area remained under a winter storm warning until midnight Monday.

More snow was expected overnight into Monday.

Northern Arizona University, Coconino Community College, and the Flagstaff Unified School District canceled classes Monday to allow students an extra day to return from spring break.

Meanwhile, much of New Mexico remained under a high wind advisory with damaging winds expected to reach up to 60 mph.

The New Mexico Environmental Health Department’s air quality division warned residents who are sensitive to blowing dust, such as those with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory and heart diseases, to limit outdoor activity until Monday.

Children and older adults also could be affected by particulate pollution, the agency said.

Dan Ware, state forestry spokesman, blamed high winds for a fire west of Silver City in the Wind Canyon area.

He said crews contained a fire Sunday afternoon that burned less than 7 acres and was not a threat to any structures.



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