Bundle up! A big winter storm heading to Arizona

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Arizona Snowbowl) (Source: Arizona Snowbowl)
(Source: NWS) (Source: NWS)

A winter storm is headed for Arizona, and it is expected to bring high country snow, breezy winds plus a major cool down this weekend.

High pressure just west of the state will continue to track east through Friday. As a result, generally sunny skies and much warmer than normal temperatures are in the forecast during this time period. For metro Phoenix, the warmest day of the week will be Friday, with a forecast high of 77. The seasonal average high for this time of year is 68.

But by Friday afternoon, a trough and its associated cold front will approach the state from the northwest. Ahead of this system, gusty southwest winds will kick up across the high country and western Arizona. Wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph are possible Friday afternoon through Saturday in these areas. Open desert areas will see periods of blowing dust. 

This cold storm system is also expected to drop snow levels to as low as 4,000 ft. by Saturday evening. Snow will likely accumulate as low as 5,000 ft., with mountain communities above 6,000 ft. seeing anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of snow between Friday night and Sunday morning. Flagstaff is forecast to receive 3 to 5 inches of snow, with 2 to 4 inches for Williams, less than an inch for Prescott and Payson, and 1 to 2 inches for Show Low. Those headed to the high country should prepare for winter driving conditions like icy roads and blowing snow.

The Valley will see little to no rain, but rain chances enter the forecast Friday evening and continue through Saturday morning. Some metro Phoenix communities will see a few one-hundredths of an inch of rain at best.

The bigger impacts from this storm for the Valley will be the big drop in temperatures and the gusty winds Saturday. Between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, daytime highs will dip 15 to 20 degrees. Highs will barely reach 60 degrees Saturday. By Sunday morning, low temperatures will be in the 30s. Southwest wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour Saturday will make temperatures feel colder.

Valley highs remain near 60 degrees Sunday under sunny skies. High pressure and warmer weather with highs in the mid-60s are in the forecast for Monday.

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