New record low of 18 this morning which is also tied for the second coldest ever for a February Tucson morning. There’s a chance we tied the all-time record February low of 17. We won’t find out for sure for a few hours. If we didn’t reach it, no worries. We have an even better chance tomorrow morning!
This could be the coldest February chill in Tucson’s history. I go through all of that plus take a look at the cold, snow and freezing rain forecast for Texas in this morning’s “Coffee and a Forecast”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At least at the airport. I would have mentioned this yesterday, but I was quite busy! Anyway, the National Weather Service says the freeze happened yesterday morning at 6:30. While this first freeze comes almost two weeks later than average, much of southeastern Arizona experienced a freeze this year nearly three weeks earlier than average when we had a cold snap at the end of October.
We have a Freeze Warning in effect for this morning until 9 for much of southeast Arizona. Some places that haven’t frozen yet may have overnight and this morning. That doesn’t appear to be the case here at my apartment. I have an indoor/outdoor thermometer that is supposed to be accurate within two degrees and it is 30 feet off the ground on my third story deck. Keeping all of those qualifiers in mind, I have yet to see freezing temperatures here at the apartment. I brought the rubber tree plant inside last night just in case, but it’s only 38 out there right now after dipping to 37 last hour. My rubber tree plant lives! And my deck awaits it’s first freeze…
Tucson Weather: Sunny today with a high near 65. Partly cloudy tonight with a low near 38. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a high near 64.
Great news from the National Weather Service. Our typical December weather is fixin’ ta give way to valley rain and “significant mountain snow” by Monday night and Tuesday! By significant, the National Weather Service office in Tucson is estimating 6-12 inches between 6,000 and 7,000 feet with snow totals 12-18 inches possible above 7,000. Great news indeed if it comes true. This might be enough to jump start the ski season at Ski Valley on the top of Mt. Lemmon. If that doesn’t, then there is a chance for more “significant mountain snow” Thursday/Friday time frame.
Of course I am hopeful that Mt. Lemmon can get the maximum from each storm. If that is the case, we could be looking at over 3 feet of snow up there by next weekend! Even if there is less than a third of that, there will be plenty of snow to sled on and build snowmen with.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch above 6,000 feet for much of southeastern Arizona for Monday night and Tuesday. That’s on top of this morning’s Freeze Warning that expires at 9am.
So, what is happening? You can read about it in this morning’s Forecast Discussion from the National Weather Service. (note: the link will take you to the latest discussion, so if you click it this afternoon it will be an updated discussion. If you click it next July you will read about heat and maybe Monsoon
Currently, southeastern Arizona is on the western edge of a cold Canadian airmass. Cold dry air is giving us freezing temperatures this morning. The quiet weather this weekend will give way to a storm that is expected to drop south out of Canada along the California coast and into the Great Basin. The trough of low pressure that forms will allow moisture, and an upper level low in the pacific, to be pulled into Arizona. That should bring us this good chance of rain and mountain snow by Monday night.
After that, the jet stream becomes more “zonal” or east to west across Arizona. That should bring us an unsettled weather week with another storm moving in perhaps as early as Thursday with more rain and snow!