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Forecasters say warmer air behind lighter snow, rain in some areas of northern Arizona

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FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — Northern Arizona has evaded getting hit by what was expected to be the biggest winter storm to date, the National Weather Service said Saturday.

Snow and rain fell overnight in a scattered fashion across the region thanks to warmer air, meteorologist Cory Mottice said. Flagstaff, which was expected to get 17 inches of snow by the end of the weekend, received only half an inch in the morning.

"The storm system continues to evolve quite a bit," Mottice said. "In the Flagstaff area, there's generally been scattered showers and not much additional accumulation."

The Arizona Snowbowl, which was predicted to get 3 feet of snow, was expected to get much as 2 inches on Saturday. The ski resort said the major road leading to it has been plowed and cindered for drivers.

Some areas have been picking up decent amounts of rain and snow. At Jacob Lake on the Grand Canyon's North Rim, 3 inches of snow fell overnight. In Window Rock along the New Mexico border, about 4 inches fell but began melting away Saturday morning. In the north along the Utah border in Monument Valley, between 3 and 4 inches fell.

Warm air heading into central and northern Arizona pushed snowfall to higher elevated areas, the National W0eather Service said. The warmer temperatures also pushed much of the precipitation to the west into Mohave County and made heavy rain instead of snow.

Some cars slid off icy roads in the region, but no serious incidents have been reported, the Arizona Department of Transportation said. Motorists, who are being advised to drive with caution, can check real-time weather conditions on the ADOT website.

Flagstaff's "best chance" to accumulate a lot of snow will be a cold front expected to arrive Monday afternoon, Mottice said.

"The temperatures will fall rapidly, and we'll see some snow move through. We could still see several inches of snow in that, but not prior," Mottice said.

The state's desert areas won't escape the storm and could see some flooding, forecasters said. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for late Saturday night through Monday for parts of east-central and south-central Arizona, north Phoenix, Scottsdale, Wickenburg and east Mesa. Southern Arizona also will see widespread rain and snow.

Between 1 and 3 inches of rain will fall in Oak Creek Canyon, Payson and Oak Creek. Prescott could get up to 2 ½ inches of rain.

All the latest news surrounding the blizzard of 2015 can be found here.

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All the latest news surrounding the blizzard of 2015 can be found here.


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