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Prescott prepares for a possible white Christmas

The Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott Friday morning, Feb. 22, 2019. (Max Efrein/Courier)

The Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott Friday morning, Feb. 22, 2019. (Max Efrein/Courier)

Christmas 2019 is shaping up to be a snowy holiday.

At the very least, the community is likely to have rain-to-snow conditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and continuing through the rest of the week.

According to the forecast on the National Weather Service’s website, rain showers could begin by about Monday afternoon and continue through the night.

Then on Tuesday, Christmas Eve Day, the forecast calls for rain and snow in the morning, switching to rain in the afternoon, and then back to rain and snow in the evening.

Christmas Day has a similar forecast. Both days are expected to have to a high temperature of 41 degrees, with lows in the low 30s.

The chance of rain and snow is forecast to continue on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 26 and 27.

If snow does accumulate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it would be a relatively unusual occurrence in Prescott.

Research from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff earlier this year indicated that measurable snowfall has occurred on Christmas Day in Prescott only 5% of the years since 1898.

And only 8% of Prescott Christmases over the same period have had one inch or more of snow on the ground.

Still, it does happen.

Just three years ago, in 2016, Prescott experienced 7.5 inches of snow on Christmas Eve. And back in 1967, Prescott had 24 inches of snow on the ground, according to information from the National Weather Service.

CITY PREPARATIONS

In preparation for the storm, Prescott city officials conducted an internal meeting of department heads on Friday, Dec. 20, to discuss how to handle the coming weather event.

Public Works Director Craig Dotseth said the meeting focused on how to schedule for the storm, which likely will coincide with the holiday.

In response to the forecast, the Public Works Department has been working to inspect its equipment and deal with any damage that has occurred, Dotseth said.

In all, the department has more than a dozen vehicles ready to go, including: six 10-wheelers outfitted with snow plows and cinder spreaders; six smaller trucks also outfitted with snow plows and cinder spreaders; and several older backup vehicles that can supplement the fleet, if needed.

Backhoes are also available from the water operations division.

In addition, Dotseth said, Public Works has stocked up cinders and other ice removal materials.

On Friday, Dec. 20, he noted that the forecasts “are still showing very good temperatures (of 40 degrees or higher)” during the coming days, which should help to melt the snow through thermal warmth.

City workers will be on call in two 12-hour shifts, with 12 people per crew, Dotseth said.

“It appears this will be more of a typical Prescott storm,” Dotseth said, noting that the Christmas storm is not expected to produce the snow depths of Prescott’s massive Feb. 21 to 22 storm.

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