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10:35 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Prescott could have white Christmas?

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Prescott could get a white Christmas this year, and it seems likely to see some snow accumulation at least part of this week.

Just as in the past week, Arizona is set again for nearly a full week of soggy conditions.

And just like last week, Prescott is likely to see both rain and snow because of its elevation.

Higher areas on the southern and western fringes of the Prescott Basin could get more snow than rain, but the downtown area as well as northern and eastern parts of town, are more likely to see rain.

The first storm wave of the week could bring 1 to 3 inches of snow to Prescott today, said Dan LeBlanc of the National Weather Service office near Flagstaff, which was getting pounded with heavy snow by Monday afternoon. The Weather Service forecast snow levels dropping down to 4,500 feet and lower in elevation.

After a short break, two more systems are likely to bring rain to Prescott Wednesday and Christmas Day, possibly turning to snow Christmas night as the snow level drops as low as 4,600 feet. However, by that time precipitation amounts also should be falling.

By Saturday it's supposed to clear up.

The local Weather Service's website at weather.gov/flagstaff discusses the odds of a white Christmas in various cities.

For Prescott, the odds are 10 percent based on the past three decades. That's about the same odds as New York City.

The odds are 53 percent for Flagstaff; this year it's about 100 percent.

People who want a white Christmas guaranteed should move to Barrow, Alaska or Marquette, Minn.

But this year, they just have to travel to the higher elevations of northern Arizona. The Prescott National Forest on the southern fringes of Prescott is likely to offer a good bet.

The Weather Service issued an urgent winter weather message late Monday afternoon about the incoming "vigorous Pacific storm."

By this afternoon, the Weather Service expects areas from 5,500 feet to 7,000 feet in elevation to have 3 to 7 inches of snow, while areas above 7,000 feet could get 5 to 10 inches.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for areas above 5,500 feet until 6 p.m. today.

"Winter weather will continue through the week as additional storm systems move across Arizona bringing accumulating snow and adverse driving conditions," the Weather Service message stated.

LeBlanc advised northern Arizona travelers to keep a close eye on the forecast and be prepared for heavy snow conditions and blowing snow on Interstate 40 as well as northern Interstate 17.

For regularly updated information about road conditions and/or closures, call ADOT toll-free at 888-411-7623, or see the Internet at az511.com.

The Weather Service is advising that travelers could experience snow and ice problems on I-40 from Flagstaff west to Highway 89 at Ash Fork today, as well as on I-17 from Flagstaff to the descent into the Verde Valley.

Meanwhile, people trying to fly on airlines out of Phoenix this week have been experiencing delays because of winter storms in other parts of the country including Portland, Seattle and Buffalo, N.Y.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com