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Weekly Wrap-Up: Rare Snow Falls on Desert Southwest; Storms Impede AirAsia Plane Recovery

AirAsia flight QZ8501 vanished from radar early Sunday morning local time while flying from Surabaya Indonesia to Singapore, sparking a massive international rescue effort.

On Tuesday, AirAsia officials confirmed that debris of the Airbus A320-200 was found in the Karimata Strait, southwest of Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia.

The plane, which had 162 passengers on board, including two pilots and five crew members, lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Prior to losing correspondence, the pilot had requested to change the path of the flight due to storms, according to

Air controllers refused the request to go to a higher altitude because of another plane at that altitude but did allow a turn to the left, an Indonesia government official told Kompas, an Indonesia newspaper.

There were thunderstorms along the flight path, Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

"It's very active this time of year. December and January are the wettest times of the year in Indonesia," Samuhel said.

Daily thunderstorms throughout the week continued to recovery efforts difficult for rescue crews.

Shortly before noon EST on Monday, an EF-2 tornado ripped through Valdosta, Georgia, causing damage to several structures throughout town.

There was also a collapsed building at Langdale Forest Products. The Valdosta Daily Times reported that seven were injured in the collapse and four were transported to an area hospital.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, thunderstorms were in the area when the event occurred.

"Weak rotation was visible at various points along the cold front," he said.

A close-up of the tornado came be seen in the video below around the 49-second mark.

With the exception of Florida, cold air blasted the U.S. on New Year's Eve with many locations across the country seeing temperatures drop below freezing.

As 2014 concluded and 2015 began, rare snow fell across the Southwest including Las Vegas, which tied its record snowfall total for New Year's Eve with a trace of snow.

Snow totals ranged from 12 inches in Palomar Observatory, California, on Wednesday to close to 17 inches in Flagstaff, Arizona, through early Thursday morning.

The vigorous storm snarled traffic across major highways from California to Nevada. I-40 through Arizona faced closures on Wednesday, as did portions of the Interstate 15 through California in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

A dust devil occurred outside of the Rose Bowl fanfest in Pasadena, California, on Wednesday, sending debris flying and onlookers scrambling for safety. Four people suffered minor injuries, ABC7 in Los Angeles reported.

Caution: The below video contains profanity

Several meteorologists and staff writers contributed content to this article.