FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Two major Arizona roadways remained closed Friday morning as a powerful winter storm took its toll, forcing evacuations, stranding hikers and prompting a search for a child swept away in flooding.
Forecasters say the storm reached its peak overnight Thursday, bringing high winds, heavy snow and rain that likely would flood parts of the state. The Verde River and Oak Creek were expected to crest early Friday.
"This is a monster storm, which is affecting much of the Southwest right now," said meteorologist Brian Klimowski in Flagstaff.
A search was under way early Friday for a 6-year-old child who was swept away by rising waters in a rural area near Dewey and Humboldt, said Dwight Develyn, media coordinator for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department. He had no other details.
Develyn said at least two trailer parks near Black Canyon City were evacuated late Thursday and early Friday due to the rising Agua Fria River.
He said there were no reports of injury there, but the department also received word of seven hikers stranded by high water in the area. He said the hikers were safe and the department was going to try to reach them after daylight.
Authorities say travel on Interstate 17 between Flagstaff and Camp Verde, and State Route 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona is dangerous. Interstate 40 between Winslow and Kingman also was shut down.
High wind and blizzard warnings were in effect for parts of southern Arizona, with wind gusts of up to 80 mph in the mountainous areas. Gov. Jan Brewer has declared a state of emergency.
Flagstaff residents already digging out from nearly 3½ feet of snow braced for another 2 feet or more of powder before the storm moves out Saturday.
Farther south in Sedona and the Phoenix area, officials were preparing for flooding as water levels in rivers and creeks rose steadily Thursday and more rain was expected overnight.
The weather service reported early Friday that Oak Creek at Sedona crested below flood stage and no serious flooding was expected. It said that the creek at Cornville crested just below flood stage.
Flights at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport were severely curtailed Thursday afternoon because of high winds from the storm, but they resumed late that night.
"Normal landing and departure procedures resumed," said airport communications center supervisor Kris Commerford. She said major carriers were arriving and taking off.
Southwest Airlines canceled all arriving and departing flights Thursday afternoon and also canceled flights in Tucson, Ariz., and at Southern California airports.
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