Record-setting snowstorm buries parts of Arizona

By Katharine Jackson

(Reuters) - A winter storm in the U.S. Southwest that dumped snow on Arizona made travel treacherous on Friday as strong winds pushed powdery snow into drifts and forecasters predicted the blizzard would continue into the night.

AccuWeather predicted two to four feet (61 cm to 122 cm) of new snow would pile up in the higher elevations of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado on Friday and warned of whiteout conditions on roads.

As of early Friday, the Arizona Department of Transportation had closed nine major sections of road due to weather and crashes, including one part of Interstate 17.

By mid-morning, the snow had caused more than 30 flight delays and two cancellations at Tucson International Airport, according to the flight tracking web site

"We continue to advise against traveling in northern Arizona during this severe winter storm," the department said on Twitter.

National Weather Service winter storm warnings remained in effect for most of the region into Friday evening.

On Thursday, the storm broke the record for most snowfall in a day in Flagstaff, Arizona, with 35.9 inches (91 cm) accumulating. The previous record was set in 1915.

Even the Las Vegas area, which rarely sees snow, received more than 4 inches (10 cm) on Wednesday and local schools remained closed on Friday.

AccuWeather predicted bitter cold temperatures dipping into the teens Fahrenheit (minus 11 Celsius to minus 7 Celsius) as the snowstorm pushes into the Midwest, where it could cause blizzard conditions and tornadoes over the weekend.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)