Many Flagstaff residents were excited about the first snowfall Tuesday night.
This winter marks the second latest first snowfall on record. Rain and wind gusts up to 40 mph signaled the true arrival of winter, with the precipitation turning to snow just before midnight.
Icy roads caused the closure of I-40 at Ash Fork Hill for several hours, as well as a two-hour delay for the Flagstaff Unified School District.
I-40 reopened by Wednesday morning. Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said heavy rain was a contributing factor to a five-vehicle collision involving fatalities and additional injuries. This crash occurred Tuesday evening on southbound Interstate 17 at State Route 169. The roadway was reopened shortly after 5 a.m., according to Arizona Department of Transportation.
Multiple non-injury accidents and slide-offs were also reported in the Flagstaff area. The National Weather Service says the heaviest snowfall occurred across the western Mogollon Rim from Flagstaff to Williams, where amounts of 3 to 6 inches accumulated. Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort reported receiving up to 14 inches of new snow. Snow was reported at elevations near 5,000 feet in Prescott and the higher reaches of Sedona.
Motorists were warned to allow plenty of time and be cautious on the roads. Spotted snow showers carried on throughout Wednesday, before drier and warmer weather arrived Thursday, lasting for the rest of the weekend.
Martin Luther King Day will be mostly sunny with a high near 56, with the next chance for precipitation on Friday. The high will be 48, with a low of 19, and snow possible.