FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A winter storm packing gusty winds and heavy snow that shut down schools and stretches of highways in northern Arizona and New Mexico was making its way out of the region late Wednesday. But unseasonably cold weather with bitter wind chills was forecast to keep an icy grip on much of the Southwest into Friday.
“High temperatures on Thursday and low temperatures Friday morning will be unseasonably cold areawide,” the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said Wednesday afternoon. “Conditions will improve over the weekend with warmer temperatures and dry conditions.”
Several stretches of Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff, Arizona, were closed off and on Wednesday because of multiple crashes and spinoffs after a foot of snow (30 centimeters) fell in the area Tuesday night into Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
The same was true with a couple of stretches of U.S. Highway 60 in New Mexico south of Albuquerque. Fifteen inches (38 cm) of snow was reported at Los Alamos and schools were closed in Santa Fe.
A winter storm warning was set to expire Wednesday evening in northern Arizona and New Mexico. But bitterly cold temperatures were forecast Wednesday night into Thursday from as far west as the Sierra Nevada to the New Mexico-Texas Line.
Temperatures were expected to drop below zero around Lake Tahoe, as cold as minus 6 Fahrenheit (minus 21 Celsius) at Truckee, California. Lows early Thursday were expected to drop to minus 10 (minus 23 C) in Ely, Nevada near the Utah line.
In New Mexico, the temperatures fell early Wednesday to minus 28 (minus 33 C) at Angel Fire, minus 6 (minus 21 C) at Taos. Winds gusted up to 46 mph (74 kph) in Albuquerque.
In Flagstaff, where schools also were closed Wednesday, it was expected to be even colder overnight into Thursday, with raw temperatures around zero (minus 17 C) and wind chills as low as minus 13 (minus 25 C).
Even deserts cities like Phoenix and Tucson were expected to see temperatures drop below freezing.
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