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Tue, Oct. 22

Super Bowl Sunday could see snowfall

PRESCOTT - Forecasters are confident that another strong Pacific storm system will tackle northern Arizona on Super Bowl Sunday.

Revelers should be cautious when driving home after the game, since the snow level in the Prescott area could quickly drop as the sun goes down Sunday.

Prescott could get a half-inch of total precipitation out of this storm, including 1-2 inches of snow on Sunday, said Dennis VanCleve, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff.

The higher parts of the Yavapai County mountains could see 4-8 inches of snow, he said.

The snow level should be at about 5,500 feet Sunday afternoon and then fall to about 5,100 feet by 5 p.m. and 4,100 feet by 11 p.m. in the Prescott area, VanCleve said.

The National Weather Service forecast by Friday afternoon was calling for a 30 percent chance of snow and rain Saturday night, a 60 percent chance of rain and snow Sunday, "likely" snow and rain Sunday night, a 30 percent chance of snow Monday, and 20 percent chance of snow Monday night.

Winds could gust up to 40 mph during the storm event.

A series of storms have hit this region since December, producing above-average precipitation.

For January, the National Weather Service's Sundog measuring site on the northeast side of Prescott recorded 3.87 inches of precipitation, almost identical to December's precipitation. January's precipitation is 222 percent of the 110-year average of 1.74 inches.

The Sundog site recorded only a half-inch of snow in January, however, compared to the average of 6.1 inches.

Some parts of the state have recorded much more precipitation in recent months.

An extreme example is the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery near Payson, with 11.12 inches of precipitation in December and 8 inches in January, VanCleve said.

"People are always saying, 'We need rain, we need rain,'" VanCleve noted of Arizonans. "I don't think they're saying that any more."

Flagstaff has had snow on the ground for 54 days in a row, the Weather Service reported Friday. That city had above-average snowfall and below-average temperatures in December and January, with 25.4 inches of snow in December and 26.9 inches in January.

Strong La Niña events (cooling Pacific Ocean temperatures) tend to produce above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation in Arizona.

That is not what is happening right now during a strong La Niña, but it is not a 100-percent given every time.

"The records show that there are occasional La Niña years with above-average precipitation," VanCleve said.

That is especially true in December through February, the Weather Service said.

Climate forecasts still call for a higher chance of below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures this winter and spring, the Weather Service said.

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