Picnic weather to follow rare snowfall

Hualapai Elementary School teachers Shannon McClung and Kathleen Fottrell took advantage of the pleasant weather several weekends ago by packing a picnic with their kids at Metcalfe Park in downtown Kingman. From left to right, clockwise, are Shannon, her son Bobby (whose hat is just barely visible behind her), Eva Fottrell (enjoying her first stick pretzel), Kathleen, her other daughter Sophie (her hands are just visible in photo), and son Liam. 
JC AMBERLYN/Miner

Hualapai Elementary School teachers Shannon McClung and Kathleen Fottrell took advantage of the pleasant weather several weekends ago by packing a picnic with their kids at Metcalfe Park in downtown Kingman. From left to right, clockwise, are Shannon, her son Bobby (whose hat is just barely visible behind her), Eva Fottrell (enjoying her first stick pretzel), Kathleen, her other daughter Sophie (her hands are just visible in photo), and son Liam. JC AMBERLYN/Miner

People getting out of worship services Sunday morning were greeted by a rare mid-March sight - snowfall.

"A storm that was very strong for this late in the season dropped down out of the Pacific Northwest and brought enough moisture and cold air aloft to destabilize the atmosphere," said Jerome Jacques, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. "That combination produced the snow, although temperatures in the days preceding it sufficiently warmed the ground to prevent accumulations in your area."

Fred Weyermiller, a traffic control supervisor, said the Mohave County Department of Public Works encountered no particular problems from the snowfall. He added he has lived in Kingman for 30 years and has never saw snow this late in the season.

The NWS forecast for the Kingman area is partly cloudy to sunny skies through Friday with overnight temperatures in the low 20s Tuesday. Lows for Tuesday and Wednesday are projected in the low 40s.

"The rest of this week will be nice with a warming trend," Jacques said. "It may be a little breezy Wednesday and early Thursday from a minor system, but that's about all we expect."

Rain gauges maintained by the Mohave County Department of Public Works measured small amounts of precipitation in the six-hour period from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. A gauge at Grasshopper Junction showed 0.25 inches with the next largest amount at a tenth of an inch in Coyote Pass.

Drivers on Interstate 40 near Flagstaff encountered a nightmare Sunday.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported Monday that a 100-vehicle pileup was attributed to low visibility from blowing snow and a slick highway.

Two people were killed and 53 injured. Four of 10 with serious injuries underwent immediate surgery at Flagstaff Medical Center.

The Red Cross set up an emergency care center sheltering about 100 people at Flagstaff Middle School.

The accident closed I-40 between mileposts 171 and 190 for up to nine hours, the Daily Sun reported.

Kingman Ranger, the Arizona Department of Public Safety air rescue helicopter, was called out about 1:43 p.m., paramedic Troy Hayes said. However, the flight crew had to return to its base due to low visibility, he said.

Phoenix television stations had conflicting numbers on their Web sites Monday morning. KPHO-TV channel 5 said two people died and 52 were injured - five critically - in 50 collisions involving 80 vehicles.

DPS spokesman Harold Sanders said the driver of a westbound passenger vehicle was going too fast for conditions and lost control. That car was struck by another and the chain reaction began. The same problem unfolded in eastbound lanes, he said.

KNXV-TV channel 15 reported the accidents occurred over a four-mile stretch of the highway and involved a total of 139 vehicles. KTVK-TV channel 3 reported the wrecks forced closure of the almost 20-mile stretch of I-40 for nearly 15 hours. A DPS news release sent to the Miner on Monday contained an update of accident information.

It stated approximately 139 vehicles were involved with two deaths and more than 50 injuries.

The accident began about 12:15 p.m. Sunday. Eastbound traffic lanes reopened about 2:45 a.m. Monday and westbound lanes reopened around 4:50 a.m.