Phoenix weather: Weekend storm brings return of winter

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PHOENIX -- Spring officially starts late Monday, but winter is making one last stand this weekend.  A strong winter storm is moving towards Arizona with windy weather forecast for Saturday, and a cold blast of rain and snow likely for Sunday. 

Friday is expected to be sunny and warm, with a forecast high of 85 degrees. 

Saturday will be nearly as warm, with temperatures topping out near 80 degrees, but by the afternoon, Valley winds will be blowing out of the south between 20 and 25 mph, with gusts of up to 35 mph possible.  Even windier weather is expected in the high country, with a high wind warning in effect between 11 a.m. and midight for Mohave County for gusts up to 60 mph.  A red flag warning is in effect for much of southern and southeastern Arizona for dry and windy weather.  In the Valley, blowing dust is a possibility Saturday afternoon and evening. 

Rain and snow are most likely to start late Saturday and last throughout the day Sunday, possibly into much of Monday, as well. 

The Valley could see around 0.5 inch of rain, which is significant since we've had no measurable rain so far in 2012. The last measurable rain was exactly three months ago from Sunday, on Dec. 18. 

Snow in the high country could become heavy at times, and blowing snow is a possibility.  Look for snow totals between one and two feet above 7,000 feet, and 5 to10 inches above 5,000 feet. Snow levels could come down to 3,000 feet on Monday, with only light accumulation expected.

Temperatures will plummet with this storm, with Valley highs only topping out near 60 degrees on both Sunday and Monday. They are forecast to warm back up with sunshine and dry weather in the forecast from next Tuesday on. 

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