The season's first blast of winter weather is on Arizona's doorstep. A series of storms is expected to sweep through the state beginning today, according to the National Weather Service. Through at least late next week, below-average temperatures and a chance of rain are in the Valley's forecast.
Showers could fall as early as this evening, meteorologists said. But they added the best odds of widespread and significant precipitation arrives Wednesday and lasts into early Thursday.
Highs on Sunday and Monday may not reach 60 degrees, and afterward the daily maximums should hover in the low 60s; the seasonal norm for this time of year is about 67.
Friday's high was 68 degrees.
However, overnight lows should remain warmer than normal due to the cloud cover providing insulation against rapid cooling.
The first storm's arrival today will be accompanied by winds up to 25 mph. Highs in the Valley will range from the mid-60s to the lower 70s, and there will be a slight chance of showers in the afternoon, increasing to a 30-percent chance after midnight.
In Arizona's high country, the forecast calls for widespread light to moderate rain and snowfall beginning this evening into Sunday.
Snow levels will drop as low as 3,500 to 4,000 feet, with snowfall accumulating above 5,000 feet. At 7,000 feet and above, the total could be 2 to 5 inches with more in isolated areas.
According to the Web site for Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff, the ski resort won't open for the season until there is a packed base of at least 2 to 3 feet.
Sunrise Park Resort, in the White Mountains, also does not have a scheduled opening.
After a brief pause, another storm arrives Monday. In the Valley, there is a 30-percent chance of showers that day and night.
All the while, a large and powerful storm is expected to slide south along the Pacific Coast, drawing plenty of moisture into the West. Then, that storm is expected to move into Arizona sometime late Tuesday or Wednesday.
At the moment, the timing of the third storm's arrival is difficult to pinpoint, the weather service said, but long-range computer models are anticipating intense precipitation for a long duration.