As Arizona got ready for the first two winter storms that will start Saturday evening, a winter storm warning was issued for high-elevation areas of the state.
The storm warning included areas above 5,000 feet in elevation, from northern Arizona through the White Mountains. At 11 p.m. on Saturday, a high wind warning will go into force in the White Mountains and extend until 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Between Saturday evening and Sunday, locations in the high country were predicted to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow. On Saturday night, snow levels will reach 6,000 to 6,500 feet before dropping to 5,000 to 6,000 feet on Sunday.
The National Weather Service forecasts that Flagstaff can anticipate 2 to 3 feet of snow to accumulate by Tuesday evening.
Flagstaff had a winter storm warning on Saturday, and the Coconino Plateau, Yavapai County Mountains, Northern Gila County, White Mountains, and Chuska Mountains also had weather advisories.
The snow continues…
A Winter Storm Watch has been issued from late Sun night through Tue night for the High Country. Be prepared for additional heavy snow, gusty winds, very cold temperatures, and periods of difficult to impossible travel. #azwx pic.twitter.com/qbWOf1SqMh
— NWS Flagstaff (@NWSFlagstaff) January 14, 2023
The state’s upper northern and eastern regions were forecast to have hazardous travel conditions beginning Saturday night and continuing through Tuesday, with potential whiteout conditions predicted through Sunday midday, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.
According to Paige Swenson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, “The impacts we’re focusing on for this upcoming winter weather is hazardous to travel Saturday through Tuesday, with particularly difficult driving the late Saturday portion through early Sunday.”
Swenson predicts that managing snow will be challenging because there aren’t many gaps between snowfall periods, which continuously accumulate snow.
“It will be tricky to keep everything plowed,” Swenson said.
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Swenson added that winter storms might cause sporadic power disruptions in the state’s northern and eastern regions.
Swenson also expressed concern about broken tree limbs and the possibility of rockslides in particularly vulnerable regions close to Oak Creek Canyon, Highway 89, and the area south of Black Canyon City.
This weekend, the National Weather Service in Flagstaff advised against traveling.
“Be prepared for additional heavy snow, gusty winds, frigid temperatures, and periods of difficult to impossible travel,” the weather service said in a Saturday afternoon tweet.
Strong winds and snowfall might result in blowing snow and fallen tree branches, making travel considerably more dangerous this weekend and into the beginning of next week, according to Swenson.
During the high-impact winter storm periods, which will occur from Saturday through Tuesday, the National Weather Service advised residents to “winterize” their vehicle, prepare an emergency supplies box, stay home and not make any unnecessary trips.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety recommended keeping the following items in a winter weather emergency supply kit:
- Cellphone and charger
- Winter clothing/blankets
- Prescribed medication
- First-aid kit
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Ice scraper
- A small bag of sand or cat litter for wheel traction
- Compact shovel for snow removal
- Travel tool kit and battery cables
- Safety flares
- Nonperishable snacks
- Road map
The meteorological service predicted that things would improve on Wednesday and Thursday next week, although persistent showers might continue into the weekend.
Phoenix, southern Arizona, is in store for rain and colder temps
Rainfall and below-average temperatures are anticipated for Southern Arizona and Phoenix throughout the weekend, continuing intermittently through Wednesday.
According to Swenson, residents of lower desert areas should expect to observe water flowing in normally dry washes and perhaps flooding of quiet highways.
“This can still lead to difficult traveling conditions, especially if you’re on dirt roads or unpaved roads in general,” Swenson said.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has safety recommendations for residents on how to drive safely in the rain.
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According to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, the second winter storm, expected to hit on Monday, will bring colder temperatures to Phoenix and Tucson over the weekend and into the following Wednesday.
“Most lower desert locations will have highs in the 50s on Tuesday,” said the weather service.
The weather office predicts that dry conditions will return to the lower desert regions beginning on Thursday but that temperatures will stay chilly. Lows in the 30s were anticipated, which would be more relaxed than last week’s lows.
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