PHOENIX – A week after metro Phoenix was drenched by record-shattering rain, another storm will bring additional drops to the desert and flakes to the high country. The storm, which now is off California, is expected to arrive overnight Wednesday and push temperatures well below normal.
Rainfall totals are expected to be lighter than last week’s multiday event, but snow is expected at lower elevations, starting at 5,000 feet. Temperatures will stay near seasonal normals through Tuesday before dropping 10 to 15 degrees by Wednesday.
The storm is forecast to drop south toward San Diego on Tuesday and make Arizona by late Wednesday. Unlike last week, this storm will have less moisture to work with but enough to produce soaking precipitation across the state. Rainfall totals are expected to be 0.25 to 0.75 inches.
Winds will pick up across the high country Tuesday, with sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph and gusts topping 40 mph throughout the day.
Thunderstorms are also possible Wednesday across central Arizona as the core of the low pressure moves across the state. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a marginal risk – the lowest category – for severe weather, meaning some storms could produce small hail and gusty winds. However, heavy rain and lightning is the primary concern.
Colder air will accompany this week’s storm, which will drop snow levels to 5,000 feet on Wednesday. Several inches are expected above 6,000 feet, and travel conditions will quickly deteriorate for these elevations.
3:15 PM MST – A major winter storm is set to impact northern Arizona Wednesday and Thursday. Winter Storm Watches have been issued for many areas above 6,000 feet. Here is our preliminary forecast snow amounts. Be prepared for winter driving conditions. #azwx pic.twitter.com/nPqVl5MtXm
— NWS Flagstaff (@NWSFlagstaff) March 16, 2020
Skies will clear across the state Thursday afternoon into Friday, with a sunny and dry weekend.
Highs across metro Phoenix and Tucson will be in the low to mid-60s, before rebounding into the 70s by the weekend. Flagstaff will see lows bottom out in the low 20s both Thursday and Friday mornings. High temperatures will stay in the 30s during the storm, but upper 40s will return by the weekend.
The National Weather Service office in Phoenix tweeted over the weekend, “We’ve recorded 1.78″ of rain in this wet March in Phoenix, which is about 180% of normal (average is 0.99″).”
We've recorded 1.78" of rain in this wet March in Phoenix, which is about 180% of normal (average is 0.99").
While the top couple of spots are probably safe, we will almost certainly achieve a top-10 wettest March with the additional rainfall expected this week. #azwx pic.twitter.com/UCUZhSgRYp
— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) March 15, 2020
Rainfall at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – where official readings for Phoenix are taken – sits at 3.31 inches so far this year, which is nearly 1 inch above normal.