Flagstaff is a picturesque mountain town perfect for hiking, camping and other outdoor activities such as biking. Additionally, Flagstaff features several top-tier restaurants as well as being designated the world’s first Dark Sky City.
Snowfall does have its downsides; traffic jams, road closures, grocery store shutdowns, mall chaos etc can all occur as a result of snowfall.
Flagstaff has experienced one of its snowiest meteorological winters ever recorded by National Weather Service data since records began in the late 1800s, according to National Weather Service figures. This near-record amount of snowfall will help replenish droughted ground water supplies as well as reduce fire risks until later summer months.
Flagstaff typically sees its first snowfall of the season around October. A light dusting usually covers six days in January and February; major blizzards with over 10 inches of snow are rarer still.
On Wednesday during the peak of Arizona’s snowstorms, 12 highways in northern Arizona were forced to close due to conditions, marking a record for the state and showing how easily a single snowfall can disrupt local transportation systems. Flagstaff has 700 lane miles, 8 alley miles, 131 sidewalk miles, 42 bike lanes and 27,000 driveways all plowed by city equipment; each of these was closed by weather related closures due to conditions.
Snowfall in January was welcome news for Flagstaff and nearby high country towns, but its heavy load made driving conditions hazardous and even treacherous. Recent precipitation helped alleviate a decade-long drought in northern Arizona, decreasing fire danger while providing significant runoff boost once all that snow melts away later this spring/summer season.
This year at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport was second only to 1948-1949 when over 154 inches fell at that same site.
Flagstaff offers some of the finest powder and deep powder skiing in America, and receives snow six days out of every year, typically between November and March, but major blizzards may occur any time and dump 10 inches or more overnight; they typically bring several days’ worth of light snow prior to this massive snowfall event.
Flagstaff typically experiences much lighter snowfall in February compared to December, yet it can still pose significant transportation problems. With 700 lane miles, eight alley miles, 131 miles of sidewalk and 27,000 driveways for snowplows to clear away when clearing roads; various factors including amount and speed of melting contribute to how much snow gets removed by them.
On Wednesday, Feb 22nd 2023 a strong winter storm rolled through northern Arizona, dropping heavy snowfall that forced school closures and forced state officials to close most of Interstate 40 between Kingman and Flagstaff, creating lengthy delays for drivers.
A near-record snow load in Arizona’s high country regions is seen as beneficial, helping reduce forest fire risk until monsoon season arrives in late summer and replenish water runoff and extend skiing seasons. Furthermore, this snow load helps retain moisture in Mogollon Rim areas that could reduce drought conditions in some cases.
Recent snowfall has been an asset to ski resorts across the Southwest, creating epic powder days for skiers from across the region and helping ease drought conditions that had plagued them for some time. Unfortunately, however, heavy snow has also had some negative repercussions as traffic and road conditions have been severely compromised on some of America’s key highways.
This year’s snowfall load ranks as one of the highest ever seen since recorded climate history began in 1948 to 1949. This season has surpassed 2009-2010’s previous record and now ranks second only behind that year in 1948 to 1949.
Weather forecasters anticipate a break-through this weekend, bringing dry and cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, cold and windy conditions are set to persist through Monday into Tuesday; creating hazardous travel conditions both inside and outside Flagstaff area as well as very low wind chills.
Flagstaff residents should see relief from the snow this weekend, with temperatures expected to turn dry and cool – potentially decreasing the threat of wildfires in Coconino National Forest and Mogollon Rim area until later this summer.
Record-setting snowfall will benefit the economy of town by creating opportunities for skiing and other outdoor recreation, replenishing groundwater supplies and providing more water into Lake Powell.
Flagstaff’s growing season typically lasts 4.1 months from May 30 to October 1, with any given day in that span being considered part of its growing season gradually increasing from 0% to 4% over each month, as measured by monthly average growing degree days.
City crews in Flagstaff regularly snowplow over 700 lane miles, 8 alley miles, 270 miles of sidewalk, 42 miles of bike lanes and 27,000 driveways each winter. As there are so many streets, multiple passes of equipment must be made in order to remove all the snow that has accumulated on each one.