It might be a White Christmas in the higher elevations of Arizona, and a wet one down here in the desert.
A series of winter storms are forecast to strike the Southwest in the coming days. The first could arrive as early as this afternoon, the second on Wednesday night and the third – and largest – coming Thursday night.
These low-pressure systems should bring showers to the Valley and snow to the mountains, the National Weather Service said.
Once these storms pass, high pressure over the region will bring a return to mostly clear nights and mostly sunny days this coming weekend. However, it will be cold with freezing temperatures during the late-night and early-morning hours in most locations.
At the moment, a large storm system is moving eastward across the Pacific Northwest. The southern end of the associated cold front will swing southeast into Arizona by this afternoon and across the Valley tonight.
A winter storm advisory, in effect from 2 p.m. today through 6 p.m. Tuesday, has been issued for areas of northern and eastern Arizona above 5,500 feet. In southern Arizona, advisory affects elevations of 7,000 and higher, with the timeframe of 11 p.m. this evening through 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In the highest mountains, there may be snow accumulations of 10 inches, the Weather Service said.
For the Valley, most of the rain is expected tonight, with the highest amounts of precipitation falling to the north and east.
The skies will clear Tuesday and Wednesday.
The second and third storms are part of a system currently in the Gulf of Alaska.
Because of the distance and time, Weather Service meteorologists are not quite certain when the rain and snow will arrive. For now, they are going with a forecast of precipitation Christmas Eve into Christmas, and then Thursday night into Friday.
It is believed the last storm will be the coldest and most intense. Already, the Weather Service is considering the issuance of a heavy snow warning for southern Gila County on Thursday night into Friday.