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Big Storm Coming for Thanksgiving

25 November 2019   Dr. Mark Sinclair
Thanksgiving weather is likely to be stormy.

Forecast table

https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/forecast/wxtables/

Navigate on the map to your location and click. 

Headline:

Major winter storm this week, starting Wednesday. Precipitation for this storm will begin late Wednesday and then increase in coverage and intensity through the day Thursday (Thanksgiving) and continue on Friday. Snow showers are expected to taper off on Saturday. 12 to 24 inches of snow is expected at elevations above 5500 feet. 2 to 6 inches at elevations between 4000-5500 feet, mainly on Friday at these lower elevations. It will also be windy, with southwest winds gusting up to 30 kt. This storm will have major impacts, especially Thanksgiving day and Friday. Please check in to www.weather.gov/flagstaff for forecast updates before you travel.

Weather discussion

Today will be sunny and breezy, with highs in the mid-50s. Much cooler but sunny tomorrow. Wednesday will be cloudy, with showers developing in the evening. The main precipitation band will occur on Thursday, with 1-1.5 inches of rain in most places, similar to last week’s storm. There may be a few snow flurries mixed in during the heaviest showers. Thursday’s precipitation will fall as accumulating snow only above about 6,500 ft in the morning, lowering to 5,500 ft by evening. Due to previous saturation from last week’s storm, streams and washes will rise quickly. 

Overnight Thursday, rain will change to all snow, with totals in the 12-24 inch range above 5500 feet and around 2-6 inches below 5500 feet, falling as low as 3,500 ft Friday morning. Snow amounts will be greater in higher elevation southern suburbs of Prescott. Snow showers will taper off Friday afternoon. A few lingering snow showers may persist Saturday morning, but for the most part, the weekend will be clear and cold, with highs only in the 30’s and lows falling into the teens Saturday night.

As you can see from the attached, the National Weather Service is discouraging travel. Lows Friday morning will dip below freezing, so ice will be a problem in the morning. However daytime highs, even on Friday, will be above freezing throughout the Prescott region, except at higher elevations. If you must travel, delay your departure until late morning on Friday and try to arrive at your destination before dark.  There will be hard freezes both Friday and Saturday nights.

If you are travelling, take blankets with you, along with additional food and water in case get stranded on the road. With high traffic density this holiday week, delays will be due to accidents as well as weather.

Additional notes for the weather nuts out there:

Precipitation total maps are in liquid water equivalent. As a rule of thumb, if you know that precipitation will fall as snow, multiply precipitation amounts by 10 to get approximate snow depth.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and stay safe.

Mark