A cold, wet winter storm slowed Super Bowl visitors from leaving a damp, dreary Valley on Monday while dropping much-needed snow in the high country.
The bad weather snarled traffic at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. During the afternoon and into the evening, incoming and outgoing flights were delayed nearly two hours, airport officials said.
Ground transportation also was hindered. Rain closed Kenworthy Road in Queen Creek from Chandler Heights Road to Combs Road.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms produced rain in Queen Creek measuring more than nine-tenths of an inch through 9 p.m. Other high readings included 0.83 inches in Apache Junction, and 0.75 inches in Chandler and east Mesa.
Phoenix’s official rainfall through 9 p.m. was 0.21 inches. Since October, that gauge has taken in 4.09 inches — the average is 3.35 inches.
Earlier on Monday, the midafternoon high at the airport dropped to a bracing 45 degrees. Snow was seen on the Superstition Mountains, and the local National Weather Service office even mentioned the possibility of sleet.
Much of northern Arizona received high amounts of snowfall. By noon, heavily hit areas included Munds Park at 14 inches, and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and Flagstaff with about a foot.
Recent snowfall is good news for Valley residents, as it should help to fill reservoirs.
Arizona State University climatologist Nancy Selover said the recent snowfall is great — as long as the snowpack remains cold through March. When it melts, that would help to fill reservoirs at the time Valley residents begin to irrigate lawns coming out of dormancy.
Ken Daniel, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, predicted the recent snowfall will stick and add to the northern snowpack. That snow will help to fill the Valley’s reservoirs, but he noted it’s not getting “too out of hand.”
“We’re a little bit ahead of normal but it feels like we’re further ahead because of the dry winter,” he said.
Flagstaff has received 61.5 inches of snowfall so far this season, the average for the year being 54.6 inches.
According to the Weather Service, conditions will clear today and the clouds, which provide a bit of insulation from atmospheric conditions, will be gone. A freeze warning is in effect for the Valley from 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The rest of the forecast calls for sunny skies and a warming trend through the weekend.