Winter Storm Closes 180 Miles of AZ Interstate


Due to weather, the Arizona Department of Transportation closes Interstate 40 from milepost 71 to milepost 252 is closed in both directions on Sunday, March 18, 2012. Credit: Arizona DOT

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By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — A winter storm packing heavy snow and gusty winds forced authorities to close 180 miles of Interstate 40 in northern Arizona on Sunday until further notice.

The road was closed in both directions about 6:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m. ET), said David Beck, dispatch supervisor for the Flagstaff office of the Arizona Highway Patrol. The closure stretched roughly from Kingman in western Arizona to eastward to Winslow, including the city of Flagstaff, he said.

Portions of Interstate 17 south of Flagstaff were also closed, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s website, as were several state roads.

As of 9 a.m. Sunday, Flagstaff — with an elevation of about 6,900 feet — had received 10 to 14 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service. The city of Prescott had received 8 to 12 inches. Areas above 7,000 feet could see up to 22 inches, according to the weather service.

Several crashes and reports of stuck vehicles had been reported as of Sunday morning, Beck said, with one person sustaining minor injuries on I-40.

The Flagstaff Unified School District said its schools would be closed Monday. Northern Arizona University said its Flagstaff campus would be closed Monday, and Coconino Community College said its Flagstaff and Page campuses would be closed.

Much of Arizona remained under a winter weather advisory or a winter storm warning on Sunday. The warning was in effect until midnight Sunday. In addition to heavy snow, wind gusts of up to 30 mph were forecast for the Flagstaff area, according to the National Weather Service.

— CNN’s Maggie Schneider and Ashley Hayes contributed to this report.

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