Originally Published: January 21, 2010 11:12 p.m.
Prescott is forecast to get 6 to 12 inches of snow by early Saturday before a massive storm finally passes through.
Prescott schools and other offices are closed Friday, and city officials are urging businesses to close as well.
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall issued a proclamation of a local emergency at 3:40 p.m. Thursday, "due to extreme weather conditions which may endanger the life or property within the city." The proclamation cleared the way for state and federal aid, including potential support resources such as the National Guard.
A winter storm warning is in effect for the Yavapai County mountains until noon Saturday, as well as a flood watch throughout Yavapai County. Some areas already were facing flood warnings by dark Thursday.
Granite Creek was flooding throughout most of Granite Creek Park and rising to the level of several downtown Prescott footbridges even before dark Thursday.
Numerous areas throughout Yavapai County have lost electricity as snow and wind take down power lines and trees. The Weather Service said wind gusts could reach 60 mph or higher at the peak of the storm.
Fallen trees and lines also forced the temporary closure of numerous streets, including major arterials such as Montezuma and Gurley.
Approximately 1,000 homes were without electricity from Prescott to Cordes Junction to Oak Creek Canyon late Thursday afternoon, Arizona Public Service spokesperson Mike Johnsen estimated.
"There are some places we can't get to because of the creeks and washes rising," Johnsen said. He estimated that problem was affecting 500-600 homes. Those areas included forested mountain communities south of Prescott such as Mountain Pine Acres and Potato Patch, as well as Oak Creek Canyon where Highway 89A was closed.
"The ground is saturated now, and that's going to be a challenge for trees and power poles," he added. Call 800-253-9405 to report power failures or fallen trees and power lines.
Watch www.dcourier.com for updates on this storm. Statewide emergency information including highway closure information also is available online at www.az511.com and www.azein.gov. People can call 511 for state highway closure information, too.
The snow level could drop down to 4,500 feet Friday and will fall on top of several inches of previous rain, filling the numerous creeks and washes that criss-cross through Prescott. The city already received 5-7 inches of heavy wet snow after the storm hit around midnight Wednesday, then the precipitation turned to rain Thursday morning and produced deep slush.
Streamflow crests are highly dependent on the timing of snowmelt coming downstream as the lowest snow level rises to about 7,000 feet, warned Brian Klimowski of the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff on Thursday afternoon.
He urged everyone near waterways and washes to closely monitor local weather online at www.weather.gov/flagstaff.
"Water levels in all local creeks are expected to meet or exceed historic levels," warned a City of Prescott press release Thursday.
Prescott authorities evacuated at least one area before The Daily Courier newspaper's deadline late Thursday afternoon. Residents of Jack Drive had to leave at 3 p.m. or risk being trapped through Saturday, because Willow Creek was rapidly rising over their street.
Prescott authorities closed at least 10 other low-water crossings Thursday afternoon, but unlike Jack Drive, they all had alternate egress/ingress.
Prescott officials warned that they would charge drivers the cost of any rescues if they go around barriers.
FLOOD DANGER ELSEWHERE
Crown King 20 miles to the south of Prescott could get as much as seven inches of rain, sparking concerns of mudslides where the Lane 2 wildfire burned near this isolated mountain community.
Black Canyon City and the Verde Valley area are among the areas that face the worst flooding problems. By Thursday afternoon the Weather Service was forecasting crests of 5-17 feet above flood stage for Oak Creek, the Verde River and the Agua Fria River. The agency anticipated several new records.
Parts of the Agua Fria at Black Canyon City already were flooding by dark Thursday. Residents of trailer parks along the river and creeks in Black Canyon City were heeding the advice of emergency officials and moving their trailers out earlier Thursday. Many other residents set up sandbags.
Higher elevations were dealing with several feet of snow, forcing the closure of several highways and interstates in the Flagstaff area. Some closures extended as far south as Camp Verde on Interstate 17.
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