It wasn’t a white Christmas, but in the East Valley, it could be as close as we get this year.
A wet, low pressure system moving into Arizona could mean snow flurries in the higher elevations of east Mesa and Apache Junction on Thursday, according to meteorologist Leslie Wanek, who works at the Phoenix office for the National Weather Service. It won’t stick, but it will be something to call friends and family about.
Mountains around Phoenix could see up to an inch and a half of precipitation the next two days, with a half inch of rain possible in parts of the East Valley.
The most intense showers will be overnight Wednesday into Thursday, with the coldest temperatures arriving late Thursday night and early Friday morning. Freeze warnings are likely.
“It doesn’t appear to have the same force that the (January storm) had. We have the possibility of isolated thunderstorms, but at this point it looks like it will be really cold,” Wanek said.
High temperatures Wednesday will be in the mid to upper 50s, with lows in the mid 30s to mid 40s. Thursday’s high should be around 50, several degrees below normal. Outlining areas of Phoenix could dip into the 20s Thursday night and Friday morning. At midnight New Year’s Eve, temperatures could be in the 30s around the Valley.
“By then the skies should be clear and the cold air should settle in and there won’t be as much wind,” Wanek said. “By Friday (daytime), we’re going to be hard pressed to get out of the upper 40s and low 50s.”
Valley residents should avoid unnecessary driving Wednesday night with the predicted downpour.
April Hollis, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Animal Shelters, said pet owners may want to provide a warm place for their animals Thursday and Friday night, especially if they’re older.
“You’ll want to bring them inside. They aren’t quite as tough as the younger ones,” she said.
Plus, that will also help them Friday night when fireworks are going off.
“They don’t know what the sound is coming from. A lot of them try to escape,” she said. New Year’s Day is just behind Independence Day as the busiest of the year for the shelters.
The state’s higher elevations could see blizzard-like conditions this week, especially in the White Mountains, with 4 to 12 inches of snow.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety has issued a travel advisory for northern Arizona beginning Wednesday. With the possibility that areas above 7,000 feet could receive 18 to 20 inches of snow accumulation between Wednesday and Friday, drivers should make sure their vehicles are able to make the trip and either be in an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle or have snow tires.
The DPS Highway Patrol will shift resources to make as many patrolmen available as possible to respond to emergency calls during this period.
Winter road conditions will be available by calling 5-1-1 or online at www.az511.gov.
With the storms last week, Arizona Snowbowl outside Flagstaff opened for skiers. The area saw 19 inches to 27 inches of snow in the seven weeks.
Sunrise Park Resort in the White Mountains also opened for business.