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Mon, April 22

Dashing through the snow: Weather takes its toll on Prescott-area drivers, schools

A city of Prescott snowplow hits the intersection of Montezuma and Gurley Streets after the Prescott area received its second snowfall of the season. The National Weather Service is predicting sunny weather today with a high near 33 degrees. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

A city of Prescott snowplow hits the intersection of Montezuma and Gurley Streets after the Prescott area received its second snowfall of the season. The National Weather Service is predicting sunny weather today with a high near 33 degrees. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

PRESCOTT - With the snow that fell overnight came dozens of traffic crashes, slide-offs and stuck vehicles as Prescott-area drivers took to the roads on Monday morning, Dec. 14.Most were not serious and involved no injuries, although a few cars and trucks ended up in ditches and on their sides, according to law enforcement sources.One of those crashes took place at Highway 69 and Bradshaw Mountain Road, where a pickup rolled over after being struck. One person was taken to the hospital.Cinder trucks were in demand across the quad-city area, as icy streets made driving tough. In one case, police temporarily shut down Copper Basin near Kopavi Trail while they waited for cinders. Willow Creek Road southbound at Country Park Drive was slick and several cars slid around, again requiring police to shut down the area for a time.Gurley Street in front of the Elks Theatre, known as Elks Hill, was closed, as it frequently is in icy weather, because cars trying to climb the hill were unable to make it. On Highway 89 southbound at the Highway 69 junction, icy and slushy conditions caused some cars to get stuck, and traffic was backed up for about a half-mile.Also on Highway 89, south of Prescott at about milepost 300 between Prescott and Wilhoit, two vehicles ran off the roadway early in the afternoon; a minivan struck a tree - no one was hurt - and the other, a car, went down an embankment. The car ended up falling 40 feet over the edge and injured the two occupants, a fire department spokesman said. They were rescued by firefighters and taken to Yavapai Regional Medical Center.District schools in Prescott, Chino Valley and Prescott Valley ran on a two-hour delay Monday.Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard said the decision whether to cancel or delay school is one administrators make after discussion with both the district's transportation department and meteorologists."We won't continue if we don't feel it's safe," he said.Howard explained the two-hour delay allows the schools to count the day toward the number of mandated school days each year. If schools close for weather, the Good Friday vacation is the first to go from PUSD's calendar. If more are needed, other vacation days will get cut or days added to the end of the year."We see a big winter ahead," he said. "We don't have extra days."The biggest issue, Howard said, is buses. Two hours gives the city and county plow crews time to respond, and pushes bus routes to the end of the morning commute, so buses don't have to run in both severe weather and the dark.One PUSD bus was delayed Monday when the driver felt unable to handle the bus in the winter weather conditions and the district sent a replacement. Another bus on Senator Highway had trouble when it got ahead of a plow, but completed its route successfully.As the day went on, the sun melted the slush and ice on many major streets - though not everywhere - and traffic returned to normal. "Ice may be present on roadways for several days due to the low temperatures and shaded areas," Prescott city spokeswoman Catherine Sebold said.Daily Courier reporter Les Bowen contributed to this story.Follow Scott Orr on Twitter @AZNewsguy. Call him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2038 or 928-642-7705.
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