Snow Storm Leaves Hundreds Stranded Overnight on Interstate Near Phoenix

A snow storm left hundreds of motorists stranded for up to 12 hours overnight on an interstate outside Phoenix, Arizona.

Two tractor-trailer trucks collided in the westbound lanes of the I-40 near Ash Fork at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday, backing up traffic past the Kingman exit ramps.

The collision was just one in a series of crashes that closed the interstate in both directions.

One woman was on her way home to Kingman from work in Lake Havasu City when she became stuck in the traffic on Monday night.

Major backup on I-40 WB between Kingman and Seligman, AZ today.@ArizonaDOT reporting numerous road closures, delays, and crashes in the high country due to winter weather.

📹: Shawn Lawless @abc15 #azwx #aztraffic

— Jorge Torres (@JorgeTWeather) January 26, 2021

Here is the reason for the standstill along I-40 westbound between Flagstaff and Kingman (just east of exit 87). Also... that is transmission fluids. #AZwx @ArizonaDOT #arizona

— Brian Emfinger (@brianemfinger) January 26, 2021

"I would say I was actually stuck on the road for at least eight hours," Renate Bucker told 12News. "I left at 10 o'clock at night from Pilot [gas station in Lake Havasu City] and I got home at 10 o'clock in the morning."

Bucker said she had checked the GPS before leaving and the roads were showing only light traffic.

"None of those map services were showing that there were any problems," she said. "They were all saying the roads were clear, light traffic."

According to her GPS, she was 0.08 miles from her exit ramp when the traffic stopped.

Photojournalist Brian Emfinger shared a photo from the scene showing a serious crash between two large trailer trucks.

"Here is the reason for the standstill along I-40 westbound between Flagstaff and Kingman (just east of exit 87)" he tweeted, adding that the red liquid seen on the snow was transmission fluid.

Greg Wadzinski was also caught up in the jam on a journey from Florida to Oregon.

"Update: I am stuck in a snowstorm outside of the Grand Canyon," he posted to Instagram, later adding: "I guess I'll be staying here tonight?"

The Arizona Department of Public Safety closed the interstate while waiting for emergency services to arrive and clear the wreckage.

"There was a crash that was blocking the entire road," the Arizona Department of Transportation tweeted in reference to westbound I-40. "That crash has been removed, but slick conditions and a large queue are making for a long time to get traffic going again."

Trucks were unable to clear the area until Tuesday morning because of the sheer number of weather-related accidents across the state.

A view of different points along I-40 right now. The freeway HAS reopened, although you can expect slick winter driving conditions. #azwx #KnowSnow #I40 #aztraffic

— Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT) January 26, 2021

One of our NWS Phoenix COOP Observers up in Globe...Mike Magoon has reported 3.5 inches of snow so far...and it is still snowing at this hour. Here are some great photos of the snow from him...thanks Mike! #azwx

— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) January 26, 2021

Self-described storm chaser Brett Adair shared drone footage of the trucks' collision.

"A serious-looking accident has closed I-40 westbound between Flagstaff and Kingman, Arizona, just east of exit 87," he wrote. "Several trucks are wrecked and one shows the cab sliced apart.

"The Arizona DOT says the interstate is officially closed until the wreck can be cleared. Miles and miles of vehicles are backed up."

The storm shut highways across northern Arizona, closing long stretches of Interstate 17 and State Route 89A, as well as I-40. The state has been hit by a barrage of heavy snow and rain in recent days, forcing drivers to battle hazardous conditions.

Winter storm warnings are in place across the country this week. These warnings mean snow will cover the roads and visibility will be limited.

"This is one of those storms that has touched every part of our state," Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Kameron Lee told KTAR on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service bureau in Flagstaff reported that 14 inches of snow fell on Monday and more snow was falling on Tuesday.

Arizona snow storm
File photo of snow covering the ground at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona. A storm left Interstate 40 shut down in both directions and hundreds of drivers stranded. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty