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Storms don’t spare Arizona as rain, wind, snow hit hard

A pickup truck driver comes to the end of the road due to floodwaters Friday near Salome, Ariz.  (Associated Press / Associated Press)
A pickup truck driver comes to the end of the road due to floodwaters Friday near Salome, Ariz. (Associated Press / Associated Press)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The remnants of the biggest storm to hit Arizona in nearly two decades lingered over the state Friday after drenching California, while authorities in both states continued to tally the damage.

In Arizona, flooding swept through small towns, caused a train derailment and closed major interstates. Snow collapsed roofs in the northern part of the state. Meanwhile, searchers looked for a 6-year-old boy swept away late Thursday in a flood.

Searchers spent Friday looking for the boy, who was caught in rising waters about 70 miles north of Phoenix. Dwight D’Evelyn, a Yavapai County sheriff’s spokesman, said the boy was presumed dead.

Three others died in vehicle accidents this week – two on Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff and one in Phoenix – as a series of storms moved through the state. At least two people were killed by trees toppled by high winds in California in recent days.

In Southern California, hundreds of evacuees were allowed to return home Friday as a week of lightning, vicious downpours and tornadoes dissipated into occasional thunderstorms. Still, tens of thousands of people remained without power throughout the state. In Southern California, more than 15,000 Edison customers remained without power Friday.

Flood control channels remained swollen and swift despite the drop in rainfall.

The storms pushed through California and into Arizona on Monday, dumping more than 4 1/2 feet of snow in the Flagstaff area, 2 inches of rain in Phoenix, 3 inches of rain in Yuma and 5 inches of rain in Sedona.

The storms also drenched Las Vegas, where more rain hit this week than in all of 2009. By Friday, 1.69 inches of rain had fallen in Las Vegas. The valley ended 2009 with 1.59 inches of rain.

Southern Arizona saw wind gusts of up to 80 mph, and the mountains received between 2 and 5 feet of snow, forecasters said.

“This was a high-impact event,” said Brian Klimowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. “It was a storm that impacted all of Arizona with flooding and very heavy snow, certainly ranking in the top five of all-time snow or rain events for the state.”