Cold storm headed here
A strong storm system moving into Arizona today could send temperatures plummeting by 30 degrees.
The National Weather Service expects the storm out of Alaska to bring freezing temperatures, high winds and snow to northern Arizona during Veterans Day Weekend. Higher-elevation areas of the White Mountains could get 3-4 inches of snow.
Prescott could get anywhere from a trace of snow to about one inch between midnight Friday and noon Saturday, said Justin Johndrow, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Flagstaff. By noon Saturday, any ice on the roads should be gone, he said.
The forecast is calling for a 10 percent chance of showers tonight, 50 percent chance for rain Friday, 50 percent chance for rain and/or snow Friday night, 40 percent chance for snow Saturday, and 20 percent chance for snow Saturday night before clearing up on Veterans Day Sunday.
The snow level could drop to 3,500-4,500 feet in elevation in northern Arizona by Saturday, the Weather Service said.
The low could hit 25 degrees in Prescott on Saturday and Sunday, the Weather Service said. Prescott experienced freezing temperatures for the first time this fall in late October.
Highs in Prescott could drop from the mid-70s Wednesday to 55 degrees Friday, 40 degrees Saturday and 48 degrees Sunday, then go up to the mid-50s by midweek next week, the Weather Service estimated Wednesday.
Winds will start picking up speed today, with gusts reaching 31 mph in Prescott today and 44 mph Friday. Some parts of northern Arizona could get 55 mph gusts.
The forecast caused Prescott National Forest fire managers to cancel prescribed burning in the Prescott Basin today. They continued ignitions just south of Prescott until dusk on Wednesday, when they usually stop by early afternoon.
The region could use more precipitation after below average rains in October.
Prescott's official Weather Service measuring site at the Sundog wastewater treatment plant recorded only 0.16 inches of rain in October, which is 15 percent of the 114-year average in Prescott. That rain fell on Oct. 11-12. The average high and low temperatures for October were about three degrees above average.
Below-average rains occurred throughout northern Arizona in October. Other monthly totals from the Weather Service include 0.15 inches in Bagdad, zero in Castle Hot Springs, 0.09 inches in Chino Valley, 0.25 inches in Jerome and 0.13 inches in Seligman.
August and September both produced less than 60 percent of the average rains in Prescott.
The Weather Service outlook for this coming winter doesn't show much chance for any relief from the long-term drought.
The outlook shows a weakening chance for El Niño, a warming of the Pacific Ocean that tends to enhance precipitation in the Southwestern U.S.
The agency is forecasting an enhanced chance for continued above-average temperatures in northern Arizona this winter, however.