Flagstaff stands out as Arizona’s snowiest city and residents take great pride in it.
Flagstaff offers many opportunities for snow play and sledding, from toddler-friendly parks close to town to secluded hills suitable for snowball fights.
Flagstaff offers great year-round weather for those who appreciate all four distinct seasons, especially at its elevation of 7,000 feet. Here, warm summers alternate with golden autumn hues and snowy winter storms – making Flagstaff an ideal location to experience all four.
Flagstaff typically experiences snowfall for 11 days each year and leaves an inch or more on the ground. Most snowfall occurs between January and December; however, early snowfall can sometimes occur as early as October or as late as April.
Flagstaff experiences 8.4 months of rain each year, from March 20 to December 2, and has an average of 10.9 days per month with either rain or mixed precipitation. Furthermore, Flagstaff experiences strong wind gusts during July and August – peak monsoon season!
Winter brings 27,000 driveways and 131 miles of bike lanes and sidewalks that need plowing by city equipment, which makes multiple passes across each stretch of roadway to fully clear it of snow.
Flagstaff is located in northern Arizona and serves as home for the National Weather Service Flagstaff office and Nestle Purina PetCare distribution hubs. As well as this, it offers popular tourist spots like Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, Meteor Crater, Historic Route 66.
Flagstaff sees significantly more snowfall than Phoenix due to its higher elevation. The first flakes typically arrive between October and December or even January; snowstorms of five inches per day typically happen six times annually while major blizzards deposit ten inches or more a few times every winter.
Last night’s snowfall is only part of an ongoing storm system; more storms are set to strike northern Arizona over the coming days and weeks. A winter storm warning remains in place until 8 am Friday morning in Flagstaff and additional snowfall and windy conditions are expected to fall there.
On Monday, a trough moved across northern Arizona, bringing widespread snowfall and high winds to the High Country of Arizona. Travel difficulties and power outages were reported across northern Arizona due to this weather system which dumped nearly one foot of snow at higher elevations, creating travel difficulties as well as power outages in some regions of Arizona.
Flagstaff saw some of the heaviest snow accumulation, though other high elevation areas across Arizona also reported significant amounts. Snowplows were active clearing roads while schools across the region cancelled classes on Tuesday; for instance, City of Flagstaff cancelled administrative offices and non-essential facilities while Music Mountain Jr/Sr High School, Flagstaff Unified Schools, and Williams Unified schools among others canceled classes due to this inclement weather.
The winter storm that hit Arizona Tuesday night and Wednesday morning brought with it several feet of snowfall in certain areas of northern Arizona, due to shortwave impulses coupled with residual low-level moisture and a colder trough moving west, creating this tremendous event.
Snow was a boon for the regional snowpack, which had been struggling in an ongoing drought since last year. Recent rainfall raised its level to around 19.5 inches – more than 50% above what SRP projected would occur this time of year – which will generate plenty of runoff as it melts later on and help ease drought conditions.
At its height, more than a dozen highways in the region were closed for safety; as it subsided slowly, however, that list dwindled significantly. Schools such as Blue Ridge, Flagstaff, Prescott and Williams districts as well as classes at Northern Arizona University mountain campuses were all forced to close temporarily.
City crews are working hard to keep streets clear of snow and ice as much as possible. The city maintains 700 lane miles, 8 alley miles, 131 bike lanes, 270 sidewalk miles, 42 miles of FUTS routes and 27,000 driveways that need clearing daily by equipment making multiple passes over these routes to clear snow from these routes.
Tourists visiting Arizona during warmer seasons might be amazed to find that Northern Arizona, especially Flagstaff, can be transformed into a winter wonderland in winter months. Home to one of the country’s largest ponderosa pine forests and home of one of Arizona’s highest mountain peaks, Flagstaff receives 100+ inches of snow each season with winter recreational offerings that rival bigger mountain destinations in the West.
Snow makes for excellent outdoor winter activities such as snow tubing, snowshoeing and other winter holiday adventures. Many tourists also take pleasure in hiking one of Snowbowl’s high altitude trails – these often don’t see as much traffic than its slopes so can feel like your own private winter paradise!
Fort Tuthill County Park’s Snow Park provides another exciting winter adventure, providing multiple groomed tubing runs, kiddie hill, passive snow play areas with fire pit and picnic tables, as well as multiple groomed tubing lanes and passive snow play zones with firepit and picnic tables for family recreation. Reservations should be made as availability varies daily.
After an exciting snow day, guests may work up an appetite and head into town in search of food. There are several chain restaurants here as well as more unique dining venues like casual American joints, Southwestern Mexican cuisine and trendy sushi spots – there’s sure to be something tasty here for every palette!