Northern Arizona will finally see some respite following a winter storm that made headlines around the globe, breaking all records with its storm activity. Flagstaff Pulliam Airport alone recorded over 140 inches by March 1 – second only to 1948-1949 with 153.9 inches recorded between them.
Estevan at Flagstaff Towing and Recovery was relieved to hear this news as he has been working nonstop and could use some rest. He hopes a short respite may provide much-needed restorative rest.
Snowfall in Flagstaff
Flagstaff is a four-season outdoor recreation hotspot renowned for its stunning natural landscapes and legendary snow-covered peaks. At an elevation of over 9,000 feet, Flagstaff makes for the ideal setting for mountain biking, rafting and kayaking excursions as well as downhill and cross-country skiing activities.
Location: Northern Arizona It is nestled amidst lush ponderosa pine forests and high-country lakes, serving as an entryway into San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl ski resort and Wupatki National Monument (home of Native American pueblo sites), as well as boasting an active downtown district featuring trendy restaurants, craft breweries and art galleries.
Flagstaff has seen an unusually snowy winter this year. Already surpassing its average March snowfall total and on track to surpassing 1948-49’s record level snowfall total, Flagstaff is well on its way to shattering records set back then.
Snowfall in Mogollon Rim this winter came as a welcome sight, helping replenish water runoff deficits caused by drought conditions of recent years and shortening wildfire season duration.
Snowfall in Flagstaff can be breathtakingly beautiful, yet can also present obstacles for residents. Cold temperatures can create slippery road conditions and make getting around more difficult, though luckily the city offers ample sidewalks and trails that enable residents to navigate easily.
Little snowfall goes a long way in the high country, as evidenced by predictions by the National Weather Service that this winter’s accumulative snowpack may be one of the highest since 2010, which bodes well for snow-sports enthusiasts and aquifers in the region. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Salli Dymond, forest hydrologist from Northern Arizona University.
This season has already proven itself the second-best on record at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, recording 140.1 inches between July 1 and March 1, second only to 1948-1949 with 153.9 inches. Meanwhile, Bellemont National Weather Service Office also set a new record with 146.7 inches!
At its height, this week’s storm caused over 12 highways to close simultaneously; that list has since been reduced significantly and weather conditions appear much more promising for Flagstaff with breezy and cool conditions emerging as expected for the weekend ahead.
Even though more snow won’t necessarily increase Colorado River rafting flows, its presence helps ease this arid climate. A healthy snowpack helps ensure water continues to make its way from Grand Canyon into Arizona cities and towns, helping the Colorado River continue its path downstream to Arizona cities and towns as well. Hatch employees were pleased to witness this winter bring some welcome snowfall; we were especially glad it happened just in time for Colorado River rafting operations! To learn more about when and how often snowfall occurs here. Check out when and how often snow falls here!
Flagstaff is the perfect mountainous destination if you love outdoor activities, offering breathtaking scenic views of the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument Sunset Crater National Monument and San Francisco Peaks.
Enchanting is also recognized as an International Dark Sky City and offers year-round opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, camping, skiing and other outdoor pursuits. Thanks to its cooler climate, residents can take part in these activities all year long unlike in other Arizona cities where heat may become unmanageable.
Flagstaff typically sees its final snowfall of the season around April, though a light winter storm may still hit as early as October or as late as December; one out of every four Octobers sees at least some light snow.
Major winter storms can do serious damage to trees and power lines. Cities also frequently experience traffic jams due to icy roads; this was evidenced this week when Highway 40 was closed for several hours due to snowfall.
Flagstaff residents still love living in an area prone to snowstorms despite these inconveniences; visitors come for ski trips and exploring its beauty; however, this attracts an influx of tourists that lead to increased traffic at restaurants and grocery stores as well as parking issues when many locals decide to visit the same locations at once.
Flagstaff is a ski town, so it comes as no surprise that snowstorms strike periodically. Big winter storms often drop a foot of snow on Flagstaff and cause chaos; 2023 was no different.
Heavy snowfall caused many schools to close and caused serious traffic issues in the area, as well as forcing Interstate 40’s closure, which remains closed today.
Snow caused major road conditions issues as well as power outages for thousands of homes and businesses in northern Arizona. Furthermore, this extreme weather triggered wildfires within Coconino National Forest.
Byron Peterson, who managed remote weather observers at the Weather Service in Flagstaff from 1980 to 1985 and now lives in Parks, remembers this winter as his worst. According to him, they lost power on the Navajo reservation, schools closed, people became marooned, airplanes dropped food for livestock as well as people. “It was an absolute disaster!” Peterson told the Sun.
Measurement of snow requires great precision. To accurately capture its totals, observers must take measurements at strategic points around an event area while taking into account wind and drifting conditions, returning every hour for accurate totals and reporting both amounts accumulated as well as maximum depth reached after its conclusion. They then report two numbers related to each storm: both inches accumulated as well as maximum depth reached before its end.