Snow overwhelms northern Arizona

February 22, 2019 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — This is the difference between Bullhead City and Kingman, at least when it comes to winter weather:

In Bullhead City, at 558 feet above sea level, the high temperature Thursday was 53 degrees, the low was 39 and it rained most of the day.

In Kingman, at 3,336 feet above sea level, the high temperature was 34 degrees, the low was 30 and it snowed most of the day. It snowed a lot, actually.

“I don’t think I can recall this much snow in Kingman,” said one social media user.

“This is the most snow I’ve ever seen in one day,” said another.

Snowfall totals in the Mohave County seat ranged from 8 inches to well over a foot with more snow possible overnight into this morning.

In Bullhead City, rainfall totals ranged from a 0.12 of an inch to about half-an-inch before rain returned late Thursday night.

Snow was visible to Tri-state residents along the Colorado River — when the clouds finally lifted at mid-morning Thursday — but it was in the distance on the Black Mountains. For Kingman and Golden Valley residents, it was visible out the front door.

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While Bullhead City residents went about their business on a cold and rainy day, most activities took a break in Kingman. Schools and government offices were closed; many businesses followed suit.

All Kingman city offices will remain closed today. County offices also may be. Classes at Mohave Community College’s Neal Campus-Kingman already have been called off for today; classes at MCC campuses in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City will be held as scheduled.

Mohave County Emergency Management Coordinator Byron Steward said the county opened an emergency operations center and that the city and American Red Cross opened a shelter to the public. Steward said public safety officials have been rescuing stranded motorists but that no grave emergencies had been reported.

Road closures were reported early and often to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Eastbound Interstate 40, a major freeway linking California to the rest of the U.S., was shut down at Stockton Hill Road in Kingman. Parts of Historic Route 66 in Mohave County also was closed as were a number of county-maintained roads.

Most road closures still were in effect entering today.

While Kingman’s foot-or-more of snow was notable, it paled in comparison with what was going on in Flagstaff, where that city’s single-day snowfall total fell with more than 31.6 inches reported by late Thursday evening. That bested a storm that brought 31.0 inches to Flagstaff in one day in 1915.

“It’s been so busy with so much going on, it’s hard to celebrate,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Stubblefield. “But it is an impressive amount of snow for one day.”

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Snowfall totals in excess of two feet were common in the Flagstaff area and several major highways were closed — and remained so late Thursday night — as travel was brought to a standstill. Flagstaff’s airport closed when heavy snow produced zero visibility Thursday morning.

State authorities urged people to avoid travel, and drivers mostly seemed to be heeding the warnings. Still, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said it responded to more than 260 reports of vehicles sliding off the road, becoming disabled or colliding in districts north of Phoenix. No one was killed or seriously injured.

In Bullhead City, emergency personnel were kept busy with a rash of traffic accidents, although it is uncertain whether any were weather-related.

Jim Seckler, Dave Hawkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.