PRESCOTT - It's looking like a White Christmas in Prescott might not be just a dream this year.
By Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service was forecasting a stronger possibility for a colder storm that could bring 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulation throughout Prescott on Christmas Day after the sun goes down.
It's more likely to rain during the daylight hours of Christmas in Prescott proper, but then the snow level could drop as low as 4,500 feet after dark, said Dan LeBlanc, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff. Downtown Prescott sits at about 5,300 feet.
Residents a bit higher in the Bradshaw Mountains on the southern and western fringes of Prescott, around 6,000 feet, could see 3 to 6 inches of snow on the ground by midnight Christmas.
The last time snow covered the ground in Prescott for Christmas probably was 1997, although the Weather Service could not confirm it because snow depth records for that date here are not available.
Weather Service records do show a snow depth of two inches on Christmas Day 1990.
The highest Christmas Day snowfall for the 110-year historical Weather Service record in Prescott was eight inches in 1916.
The most Christmas Day snow on the ground in the Weather Service record is 24 inches in 1967.
Already this week by 11 a.m. Tuesday, Flagstaff received 7 to 10 inches of new snow and the Arizona Snowbowl ski area got 12 to 16 inches.
This week's second storm wave off the Pacific Ocean is scheduled to pound Arizona tonight through Friday morning.
Travel in the high country could be treacherous.
The Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for elevations higher than 6,000 feet.
"Strong winds could accompany the snow, creating significant blowing and drifting snow," a Weather Service hazardous weather outlook states. "Hazardous travel conditions may develop."
Parts of northern Arizona higher than 6,000 feet could get as much as a foot of snow during the next few days.
The Weather Service is advising travelers to monitor forecasts frequently since they could change.
The local Weather Service's website is at weather.gov/flagstaff.
For regularly updated information about road conditions and/or closures, call ADOT toll-free at 511, or see the Internet at az511.com.
The forecast by Tuesday night was calling for rain to start late this morning, and it could be heavy at times with winds gusting as strong as 44 mph.
The chance of rain is 80 percent in Prescott for Christmas Eve and during the daylight hours on Christmas Day, followed by an 80 percent chance of rain/snow Christmas night, and 50 percent chance of snow Friday during the daylight hours. The rain and snow could be heavy at times, the Weather Service is warning.
Prescott temperatures could drop to 26 degrees on Christmas night, then 18 degrees Friday night and 16 degrees Saturday night.
By Sunday, the forecast is calling for sunny skies with temperatures hitting 50 degrees in Prescott.
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