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KNAU's Morning Rundown: Monday, March 15


It's Monday, March 15.

Winter Weather Advisory Set For Areas In Northern Arizona

The National Weather Service is calling for moderate to heavy snowfall beginning Monday at 5 p.m. in areas including Flagstaff, Williams, and the North Rim. Current forecasts say snowfall will lead to poor driving conditions in the region. Accumulation will be heaviest overnight Monday for drivers traveling west from Flagstaff, and heaviest on Tuesday for commuters traveling east from the city. 


New snow accumulations of up to four inches are expected in Flagstaff and Williams; up to three in Fredonia, Grand Canyon Village and near Ash Fork; and up to five inches on the North Rim. The snowfall is expected to last until Tuesday at 5 p.m., and a Winter Weather Advisory has been announced for Flagstaff, Williams, and Fredonia, starting tonight at 8 p.m.

Road Closures Prompt Severe Delays

Inclement weather across northern Arizona resulted in multiple highway closures over the weekend — due to winter driving conditions and subsequent collisions, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Affected corridors included the northbound lane of I-17 south of Flagstaff, SR 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona, and I-40 westbound outside of Flagstaff. Severe delays were reported on I-40 eastbound between Ash Fork and Williams, detaining traffic for hours.

ADOT encouraged drivers in the area to pack winter driving supplies, along with a fully-charged cell phone. Up-to-date conditions can be found through ADOT

Brazilian Variant Confirmed In State, ADHS Says

Arizona’s Department of Health Services on Friday confirmed a case of a Brazilian COVID-19 variant in the state. The variant was first documented in the United States in January 2021; it spreads more rapidly than the well-known variant first discovered in Wuhan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine says the Pfizer vaccine is effective against the Brazilian variant. Health officials on Friday, however, further encouraged Arizonans to practice mitigation strategies, wear face coverings, and to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when possible.

Navajo Nation Shifts To ‘Orange’ Status

Navajo Nation health officials reported three new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and no recent deaths related to the virus. The reservation today will shift from “red” to “orange status” after a continued decline in cases and hospitalization rates. A daily curfew will remain effective, though the reservation will now allow limited capacity in certain businesses and services, including outdoor dining at 25% capacity. Casinos on the reservation can now submit reopening plans to tribal officials. The announcement comes after the Navajo Gaming Enterprise laid off more than 1,100 workers at the end of 2020 amid the months of closure. Nation officials recently announced the Gaming Enterprise is set to receive $15 million in aid.

More COVID-19 Vaccines Open In Coconino County

Coconino County has opened additional appointments for individuals to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 moderna vaccine. The county on Friday announced thousands of new appointments provided by the Flagstaff Medical Center at Elk’s Lodge and by the county at Fort Tuthill County Park. Appointments range from March 17 to March 23; appointments remained available as of Monday at 8 a.m. Registration in Spanish is available for appointments at Fort Tuthill County Park only. County officials estimate 71,554 vaccine doses have been administered, and 31% of residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the county’s recently released data dashboard.

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