The first full day of winter delivered a cold shower and a pelting of hail to the East Valley, with freezing temperatures expected overnight Thursday, on Christmas Eve.
Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms began moving through the area Tuesday afternoon, said Keith Kincaid, a meteorological technician with National Weather Service Phoenix office.
"You could have a brief, heavy downpour and some gusty winds," Kincaid said.
There were two reports of hail in Tempe after 1 p.m. Soon after, a large thunderstorm deluged downtown Mesa, bringing a dusting of BB-sized hail.
As of about 3:40 p.m., portions of northeast Mesa and Apache Junction received more than one-third of an inch of rainfall, according to the Maricopa County Flood Control District. Chandler and Gilbert received between .04 and .12 inches, and Queen Creek received up to .20 inches.
Central Scottsdale was hit hardest in the Valley, with nearly an inch of rain. Other Valley cities generally received between .04 and .12 inches.
The storms arrived on the first full day of winter, Kincaid said. The winter solstice, marking the day with the fewest hours of sunlight each year, was Monday. Kincaid said the storms appear to be moving off to the northeast fairly quickly at 25 mph, but isolated showers could remain until about midnight.
Outlying areas could experience some freezing in the storms' wake, he said. In Chandler and Queen Creek, temperatures Wednesday night are expected to dip down to 31 degrees, according to National Weather Service reports. Gilbert is expected to hit 33 degrees that night, while Mesa is expected to reach 36 degrees.
Late Thursday night, freezing temperatures are expected in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek. Then on Friday night, the forecast calls for temperatures to dip into the 20s in those three cities.
Overnight temperatures in Mesa for next few days are expected to hover just above freezing. Daytime highs over the next several days in each city are expected in the high 50s and low 60s.
Kincaid said people with pets should consider bringing them inside during the cold weather, and protecting vulnerable plants by covering them with plastic or bringing them indoors, as well.