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Northern Arizona digging way out of snow after big storm

A snowplow makes its way through streets in Bellemont, Ariz., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Residents were digging out from a major winter storm that dumped heavy snow in the region. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Brian Thomas stepped out of his house west of Flagstaff before sunrise Tuesday and looked at the massive amount of snow that fell overnight and hadn’t let up.

“Oh, Lord, here we go again,” he said.

The grocery store director managed to clear enough of the driveway for his wife to venture out. But his two-wheel drive pickup slid and hit a snow berm, and Thomas wasn’t going anywhere.

“This ain’t the worst storm I’ve seen, but it’s up there,” he said.

Residents around northern Arizona were digging themselves out from the latest in a series of winter storms. The one that hit the state Sunday and moved out Tuesday afternoon dumped more than 2 feet of snow in parts of Flagstaff, Prescott, Show Low and Payson, according to the National Weather Service.

A stretch of Interstate 17 between the turnoff to Sedona and Flagstaff was closed until Tuesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, a semi-truck crashed on westbound Interstate 40 between Kingman and Flagstaff, spilling motor oil on the roadway and backing up traffic for several miles, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said.

No one was seriously injured in the multiple slide-offs and crashes, he said.

Drivers should expect delays from closures and wrecks if they choose to drive on the snow-packed and icy roads, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.

They urged people to stay home, even before the storms started. The National Weather Service hasn’t released the total amount of precipitation yet from the multiday event.

The storms weren’t expected to break any records, meteorologist Mark Stubblefield said. But they put Flagstaff close to its average snowfall for the year, as did the rain in the Phoenix area.

Low temperatures overnight into Wednesday are going to be well below freezing in many northern Arizona communities. Window Rock on the Navajo Nation is forecast to be zero.

Outside homes in the high country, driveways, walkways and vehicles were buried in the snow. Residents spent hours clearing it, often with help from neighbors or a snow blower.

“It’s cool, but it gets tiring after shoveling for a while,” said Michael Robles, 12, who had the day off from in-person classes.

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