Was that snow in Phoenix!?

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Winter storms swept into Phoenix on Wednesday and made people wonder whether this is the Valley of the Sun or the Valley of the Snow.

While much of the Valley saw rain throughout the day, central Phoenix was inundated with a sudden blast of icy, wintry, snowy precipitation that started falling right around 2 p.m. 

The wintry mix fell for 30 or 40 minutes but left a white blanket that baffled drivers, curious kids and long time Valley residents for the better part of two hours.

Technically weather experts refer to the slushy precipitation that fell in Phoenix as "graupel" -- heavily rimed snow particles often called snow pellets; often indistinguishable from very small, soft hail. 

But to the layperson, it was snow. 

“My girlfriend and her cousin are from Michigan and a friend of theirs is visiting from Michigan and they must have brought the weather,” joked one driver as he swept the snow pellets from his windshield at a central Phoenix Circle K.

Piles of slushy snow covered the streets, as well as the hoods and windshields of cars driving through the area giving he feel of  a ski resort town.

Although everybody got a taste of thunder and rain, Wednesday, only a handful of Phoenix neighborhoods saw the snowy mix.  The bulk of it seemed to fall along Glendale Avenue between 15th Avenue and 16th Street. 

Kids could be seen throwing snowballs in the neighborhoods and palm trees bowed slightly under a light dusting of white pellets that clung to the fronds. Oranges and lemons sat in snowy ice beneath citrus trees. The Palo Verde Golf Course was blanketed in a wash of white that entirely hid the greens, tees and fairways from sight.
“It never snows here,” shrieked a young boy as he threw snowballs at his brothers on the lawn of the First Christian Church on Seventh Avenue. 

“It’s plain crazy,” his older brother chimed in, tossing snowballs in return fire.

In higher elevations snow could be seen topping the Estrella, McDowell and Superstition Mountains on Wednesday afternoon.