Weird Weather: Snow In
Vegas, Phoenix While
New Hampshire Basks At 73
PHOENIX (AP) _ There's been record cold and even snow in the desert Southwest, while much of the rest of the nation has had a snow drought and record warmth. Phoenix got its first snowfall in four years Sunday. ``The snowflakes are the size of quarters,'' said Sandra Steele as she watched the snow fall outside her home in suburban Scottsdale. ``It's just beautiful.'' ``It looks kind of strange because you're not used to seeing snowflakes out of your window no matter how cold it gets,'' said Gerri Cosney in suburban Cave Creek. An inch of snow fell Sunday morning at Las Vegas, Nev., momentarily distracting gamblers. Enough fell for children and even a group of firefighters to make snowmen.

And today in Los Angeles, the mountains framing the city had a coating of snow that reached elevations as low as 3,000 feet. The snow fell during the night after a day of stormy weather in which high wind knocked out power to some 40,000 customers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport was closed for 20 minutes because of blowing snow Sunday, but only one flight was affected, said spokeswoman Cynthia Anderson.

The last measurable snowfall in Las Vegas was three-quarters of an inch on Feb. 26, 1996. The snow in Phoenix quickly changed to rain, but Sunday's high temperature was only 48, a record for the date in the palm tree-studded desert city and 19 degrees below normal. The National Weather Service said the last snow recorded in the Phoenix area was a trace on Feb. 4, 1994, and the last measurable snow was Dec. 21-22, 1990, when 0.4 of an inch fell. At the higher elevations of northern Arizona, up to 5 inches of snow fell near Flagstaff, Kingman and Prescott. A 30-mile stretch of steep Interstate 17 between Flagstaff and the Sedona turnoff had to be closed for about four hours Sunday. The state Department of Public Safety said dozens of cars slid off the road but there were no serious accidents. Farther north, in the Sierra Nevada along the California-Nevada state line, ski resorts around Lake Tahoe got up to 1{ feet of snow during the weekend, for a total of more than 5 feet over the past week. The Alpine Meadows resort already has 100 inches, a total usually not reached until sometime in January, spokeswoman Rachael Woods said. That's in stark contrast with the eastern half of the nation, where most ski resorts haven't even had enough low temperatures for machine-made snow. Today, Buffalo, N.Y., which has a reputation for cold and deep snow, had a record temperature of 69 -- before the sun even came up. And the temperature warmed to 73 degrees this morning at Concord, N.H., a record for that New England city for the entire month of December. Concord has had only 0.6 of an inch of snow. Burlington, Vt., reached 64 before dawn, three degrees above the old record for the date.