Rain and snow moving in from a vigorous storm that is tapping some tropical moisture. How low will snow levels go? 3,500 feet, maybe lower. Yuma getting soaked and rain and snow is likely for southeast Arizona this afternoon through tomorrow morning:
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.
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.
I want to try this in 2010. I’ve climbed Pusch Peak a couple of times and Picacho Peak once, although it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done either. I’d say at my current fitness level, I’d be looking at a couple of months of pretty intense hiking. Assuming I got serious about this right away, I could try it this Spring.
What am I talking about? Hiking from Catalina State Park (2,700′) to the top of Mt. Lemmon (9,080′). Looks like an all day hike with wonderful scenery and a quite a leg burn. Read much more about it here. I’ve already hiked to Romero Pools numerous times including a few days before Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas. Here’s a nice map of the trails leading out of Catalina State Park.
April sometime would be a good time to make this hike. Plan B could be November, which would give me all year to get ready. I’ll let you know!
Mt. Lemmon with a foot of new snow from the storm! KGUN9’s Chief Meteorologist Erin Christiansen points out the snow totals:
KGUN9 “On Your Side”‘s Joel Waldman spent the night on Mt. Lemmon during the storm and shows us the destruction from the storm. Power could be out for a day or two weeks or somewhere in between.
UPDATE: KOLD Meteorologist Erin Jordan reports Mt. Lemmon received 12-24″ of snow! She also recaps the storm on the KOLD Climate Community Blog.
It’s 7:42 a.m. as I am starting to type this entry and skies are just now starting to clear. Clouds will move out quickly, but leaving wind damage, as well as much needed rain and snow, in it’s wake.
I don’t have a lot of storm totals yet as far as rain and snow in the area, but the wind reports are dramatic. The National Weather Service office in Tucson reports a 73 mph wind gust early this morning at the University of Arizona campus. A window was reportedly blown in at a business in Sierra Vista thanks to winds gusting to 71. A friend of mine on Facebook says a tree blew into his house in Oro Valley! Now that the Sun is up and news crews are getting out, there should be more reports, and pictures, of what the strong winds did overnight.
The great part of the storm was the widespread rain and mountain snow. The National Weather Service office in Flagstaff is reporting widespread snow totals of 18-24 inches in their area! I’m hoping to hear that nearby Mt. Lemmon got a foot of new snow. I am getting set to record the 7:55 a.m. news cut-in from KOLD-TV to see what they have to say about all of this. I’ll add the video as an update if they have anything cool to report.
Meanwhile, our skies should clear quickly. As the storm moves out, the winds will go with it, but still quite breezy this morning. High this afternoon in the upper 50s. Partly cloudy tonight with a low in the upper 30s. Sunny tomorrow and a little warmer.
UPDATE 8:01 a.m.: KOLD-TV cut-in didn’t have much to say about wind damage or rain and snow reports. Maybe at Noon.
UPDATE 10:54 a.m.: First Alert Meteorologist Erin Jordan reports on KOLD.com that power is out on Mt. Lemmon. She doesn’t have a snow report from them yet, but rain gauges below the snow line measured over an inch and a half. That could mean over a foot and a half of snow at the top of the mountain! Also, I just got the rain gauge reports from rainlog.org from around Tucson. Looks like about a quarter of an inch near the apartment. Some places as much as a half inch in the metro area.
Tucson Weather: Cloudy and windy with a chance of an isolated shower or two this afternoon. High in the upper 50s. Rain tonight with winds gusting over 30 mph. Low in the upper 40s. Showers tomorrow morning with some clearing by afternoon. Windy and cooler. Winds gusting over 30 with a high in the low 50s.
This is one of those mornings where I am up early and my excitement for the incoming storm has me looking up the latest information and staying up! I’ll probably catch a nap before work.
I’m also up early enough to read in the National Weather Service forecast discussion about the Blizzard Warning being issued for the Catalina/Pinaleno and White Mountains for tonight above 8,000 feet before the warning actually comes out probably around 4:30 this morning.
The Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for tonight through tomorrow morning above 6,000 feet. The added component of stronger winds above 8,000 feet has prompted the Blizzard Warning, which the weather service calls, “rare” around these parts.
As the storm gets closer more is known about the storm, The expected snowfall amounts have been tweaked a little. In the Catalina’s expecting about a foot of snow above 8,000 feet, 12-14 inches in the Pinaleno’s and perhaps over 18 inches in the White’s. The snow will be heavy at times with snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour. Combine that with 40-50 mph winds you have yourself a blizzard! (mmmm blizzard)
Down here in the valley, expecting between a half inch to an inch of rain mainly tonight and tomorrow. Winds could gust over 35 mph. Kinda reminds me of Oregon! Unfortunately, winds will be out of the southwest and west, so no driving rain against my north facing window like when I was a kid. I miss that sound.