Another storm system approacheth Arizona as El Nino continues to flex. This storm is much weaker than the last two, but we should still get a fresh coat of snow above 6,000 feet. From the National Weather Service:
A STORM SYSTEM OFF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST WILL TRACK THROUGH NORTHERN MEXICO WEDNESDAY INTO THURSDAY. THIS SYSTEM WILL BRING A CHANCE OF VALLEY RAIN AND MOUNTAIN SNOW TO SOUTHEAST ARIZONA LATE WEDNESDAY INTO EARLY FRIDAY. STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES ABOVE 6000 FEET…WITH LOCALLY HEAVIER AMOUNTS ABOVE 7500 FEET CAN BE EXPECTED.
The road to Mt. Lemmon FINALLY opened today after a couple three feet of snow from the last two storms. Maybe another shut down after tonight/tomorrow’s storm but the skiing at Ski Valley probably hasn’t been this good in years, maybe decades!
Meanwhile, I hear that because of the recent power outages on the mountain, no credit or debit cards can be accepted. Kinda crazy. If you go, have fun! Maybe I can join you, but I doubt it any time soon. The good news is it will take a LONG time for this snow to melt, and with El Nino still going strong, it’s more likely we will add more before this Winter is done.
It snowed overnight as advertised. Just rain at the apartment. .70″ is a nice rain overnight! Above 4,000 feet that fell as snow. That means the snow was pretty low on the mountains today. I had to work this morning, so these pictures were taken in the early afternoon and the snow hadn’t retreated all that much. Most of these pictures were taken at the trailhead to hike to Finger Rock located at the top of Alvernon in Tucson. Be sure and click on the pics for full size versions.
The National Weather Service in Tucson has issued a Winter Storm Warning above 4,000 feet in effect from 8:00 tonight until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
Here’s what they say about possible accumulations and snow levels:
SNOW ACCUMULATIONS…SCATTERED ACCUMULATIONS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES ARE EXPECTED ABOVE 6000 FEET THIS AFTERNOON. TONIGHT INTO SATURDAY MORNING…EXPECT ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO AN INCH AT 3500 TO 4000 FEET…2 TO 4 INCHES FROM 4000 TO 5000 FEET…4 TO 6 INCHES FROM 5000 TO 7000 FEET…AND 6 TO 10 INCHES ABOVE 7000 FEET.
SNOW LEVELS…SNOW LEVELS WILL HOVER NEAR 6000 FEET THIS AFTERNOON BEFORE FALLING TO 3000 FEET TONIGHT. THEY WILL RISE SLIGHTLY TO 3500 FEET SATURDAY MORNING AS THE STORM DEPARTS.
So who lives at or around 3,000 feet? Residents in Catalina, Northern Oro Valley, Vail, Parts of the Foothills. My apartment is at about 2,600 feet. Much of Tucson Metro is around 2,400 feet.
Thanx to KOLD’s Meteorologist Erin Jordan for the totals. You can read them here.
Erin also reports that Tucson’s official rain gauge had 1.05″ of rain since midnight (still have all day to go!) shattering the old record of .60″ It’s now the 7th wettest January on record.
Other rainfall amounts range from 1 to 3 inches in the Catalina’s, generally and inch around town. Looks like we had about an inch and a third near the apartment!
UPDATE: Here are the totals from Rainlog.org for the Tucson area. I believe these numbers reflect the last 24 hours ending at 7:00 this morning. Click on the pic for the interactive map. Looks like I had just under an inch here near the apartment.
It could happen by tomorrow morning. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch above 4,000 feet for this evening through 11am tomorrow. Here’s what’s happening.
A cold front blew through last night with some moderate to heavy rainfall lasting through the night. We are now on the cold, unsettled side of the storm. Today’s forecast is for much cooler with the rain showery in nature. Cold air has moved in aloft, so especially this afternoon when we get a little bit of heating (yes, we get some heating even on a cloudy day) the atmosphere will be pretty unstable. That means the possibility of some thunderstorms forming. With such cold temperatures above our heads, it won’t take much for some of those storms to drop small hail. The winds aren’t as strong as yesterday, and they aren’t as warm. Yesterday it was south winds gusting to 60+. Today it’s southwesterly winds gusting to 30ish.
Then there’s tonight. Another weaker storm is on the heals of the one exiting right now. It is coming straight down from the Gulf of Alaska. It’s a cold system that will drop snow levels to 3,500 feet by morning and probably lower at times. The storm is moving through at night and in the morning hours, so that increases the chances of very low snow levels. The National Weather Service isn’t putting snow depths on it yet, but there is a chance of some good snows in towns south and east of Tucson such as Tombstone, Sierra Vista, Benson, Wilcox and of course Oracle.
Here’s the fun part. This storm could also bring some convective activity with it. In other words, some thunder is possible. Any thunder activity would drag colder air aloft down to lower elevations causing snow levels to drop. Even without thundersnow, it will be possible to see snow falling in the Tucson Metro area and possibly sticking in places like Catalina, Oro Valley, Vail and the Foothills.
and we ain’t done yet. I don’t have time this morning to track down all of the exact amounts and wind reports, so I will just do the best I can off the top of my head.
The storm was intense yesterday. Wind gusts were reported 73 mph and the University of Arizona, 86 mph on Mt. Lemmon, 93 mh in Ajo, I think it was. The Tucson Airport was reporting gusts generally in the low 40s mph range yesterday. There was some damage around town. I saw video this morning on KOLD of a carport shredded at an apartment complex on Mona Lisa near Ina Road.
Other wind damage reports include closed schools today on the Tahono O’dom reservation due to power outages. There were also spotty power outages around Tucson. Two semi’s were blown over on I-10 near Eloy.
With the storm came a lot of rain, flooding and severe weather. In the Phoenix area there were at least two water rescues that I heard about. There was also a report of a tornado in Scottsdale, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet that I know of. Flagstaff already had a lot of snow on the ground. Then it started raining, then it turned into snow being measured in feet. It’s still snowing up there and roads are closed all over the northern part of the state. Residents and business owners in Flagstaff were being encouraged to clear their roofs to prevent collapse.
I went to the movies last night. Saw “Book of Eli.” I really enjoyed the movie! Anyway, on my drive home about 9:30 as my car was being buffeted by the wind and there was a little rain, I was thinking, “This is a lot like an Oregon Coast Storm without the rain.” It makes sense since it was a pacific storm. There have been many times in Oregon when there have been 60 mph gusts with driving rain, not too cold out, and spotty power outages, etc.
Today’s forecast is much cooler with showers and maybe some thunderstorms. Snow levels are dropping. I’ll address that in my next post that I’m gonna start here in just a minute or two.
A robust storm, as it were, is barreling toward Arizona and the effects across the area promise to be dramatic. The headline is the strong wind. A strong southerly jet stream is driving this strong storm and the combination will translate into very strong winds in the lower elevations and even stronger winds higher up. Gusts to 55 mph by this afternoon will be likely in the Tucson area and gusts to near 70 mph are possible in the mountains. That’s why the National Weather Service has issued a HIGH WIND WARNING from 11 this morning until 2am Friday.
Tonight is when the main impact of the storm will be felt. Normally winds will decrease at night because you lose the mixing of the atmosphere leaving the strongest winds above your head. Tonight that may not be the case as scattered thunderstorms will have the capability of pulling some of those higher winds down to the surface. It’s possible that the high winds won’t decrease tonight at all.
Last time we had winds this strong there was a fatal pileup on Interstate 10 near Casa Grande. Thankfully we had some rain yesterday morning and again this morning. I’m hoping that the rain we’ve had combined with what is coming will be enough to keep the dust down. Still, caution should always be observed driving on the Interstate near those usual blowing dust areas. Also high profile vehicles may have difficulty with this wind. Definitely a two hands on the wheel kind of driving day. It’s also going to be possible to see some damage from these winds. Downed trees and stuff like that may occur in town.
Higher up, the winds will combine with a lot of snow. That’s why the National Weather Service has issued a BLIZZARD WARNING above 7,000 feet for tonight and tomorrow morning.
Initially, the snow level will be around 8,000 feet. Our last storm left a few inches of snow as low as 6,000 feet. The rain combined with some melting snow could result in some flooding in mountain streams and perhaps downstream. Otherwise, snow levels will drop below 7,000 tonight and 1 to 2 feet of new snow is possible in the mountains around Tucson combined with winds gusting as high as 70 mph. The White Mountains could get as much as 4 feet of snow from this storm!
As far as rain amounts in the lower elevations, we are expecting generally 3/4 of an inch to an inch and a half with this system. Some areas could exceed 2 inches if they get a thunderstorm or two. This is great news! We need the rain. The snow pack will help us out too.
Snow in Tucson?
Well, maybe in the Foothills and out towards Vail. After the cold front moves through tonight, temperatures will start to drop and so will the snow level. It’s possible that by early Saturday morning there may be some snow showers right down to the valley floor! Accumulating snow is expected above 4,000 feet, but it’s worth watching. This will be the back side of the storm so we aren’t talking about a whole lot of snow, but it’s possible that Oracle, Tombstone, Sierra Vista, Benson, and some other places could pick up a few inches. IF the snow level can manage to get down to the 2,500 foot level maybe we could finally see snow here at the apartment in Oro Valley. It’s not likely, but when the possibility gets this close, I start holding out hope.
Bottom line to all this? Enjoy the adventure but be careful out there!
Another much much weaker storm is headed our way early next week as the El Nino pattern is kicking in. El Nino dried out or Monsoon last Summer, let’s hope we can now make up for it in the remaining months of Winter into early Spring.
Here in Tucson (full disclosure, I live in Oro Valley, but what happens in Tucson affects Pima County) there is a 32 million dollar “budget gap.” Revenues have cratered in this economy and spending, well, it’s been suspect over the past few years. Rio Nuevo is an excellent example, but this video doesn’t go there. Perhaps some other time.
There is a move to recall some of our city council members, and our Mayor, because some in the business community say the city is not business friendly. The Wall Street Journal’s “Bottom 10 for Business” backs that up! Tucson ranks 95 out of 101.. that’s behind Detroit!
This video focuses on servant leadership and leading by example. The newest council member, Steve Kozachik, drives his own car. That doesn’t sound unusual, until you realize that the rest of the council drive Prius’ (Priusi?) that were purchased by taxpayer $$s. It won’t bridge the budget gap, but perhaps giving up their cars is the right thing to do. It might save a job and it sets a good example.
Steve K brought in a long list of suggestions for the council to consider at the January 12, 2010 meeting. You can read those here.
Here is the video:
More full disclosure. I am being compensated by Take Back Tucson for some (OK most) of my time spent making this video. The thoughts and ideas are still mine and I agree with myself.
To read more about the effort to recall council members Regina Romero and Karin Uhlich, and Mayor Bob Walkup surf on over to TakeBackTucson.com
Update: No wonder Tucson ranks as such an unfriendly place to do business. Read this article in the Arizona Star. You may have to register.