The Southwest will experience its second significant storm system of the cold season late Friday night, Jan. 19, through Saturday evening, Jan. 20.
Breezy to windy conditions are expected, with southwest wind gusts up to 30 mph, turning northwesterly and weakening after the passage of the cold front on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Rain showers will likely begin early Saturday, with snow starting at elevations of about 7,000 feet, forecasts say.
The snow levels are expected to drop to as low as 5,000 feet by the late morning or early afternoon hours, but by that time the brunt of the cold frontal band will have passed the Prescott area and only light snow accumulation is to be expected (less than an inch for most of the area), said Curtis James, a professor of meteorology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that tracks weather patterns.
However, elevations over 7,000 feet along the Mogollon Rim could see three to five inches of snow on Saturday, Curtis said.
While temperatures will be colder this weekend, forecasts show mostly sunny skies and gradual warming next week.
Winter weather safety
The Arizona Department of Transportation warns drivers to be cautious during the duration of the storm. Snowplows will be out in force, but driving conditions are expected to be hazardous at higher elevations.
“A highway can close suddenly if enough snow falls in a brief period or if there are crashes, slide-offs or both,” the department states in a news release.
For those planning to travel Saturday, the department recommends delaying it until the storm passes and highways have been cleared.