Winter Storm Scatters Rain, Snow Across Arizona

December 15, 2011

A storm that scattered rain and snow across Arizona moved out of the state Wednesday, giving residents a brief break before the chance of more precipitation this weekend.

Some areas along the eastern Mogollon Rim already had more than a foot of snow Tuesday from the storm that hit the state a day earlier. Forest Lakes reported 26 inches just before noon, while Alpine, Strawberry and Pine measured a foot of snow. Forecasters said rainfall totals could hit 1.5 inches in the Phoenix area with even more in the mountains and foothills.

Flagstaff logged more than a foot of snow and was expecting several more inches through Wednesday morning, sending the mountain city above its normal for this time of year. Flagstaff typically gets 17.9 inches of snow in December, but it has had more than 2 feet this month, said Chris Outler of the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.

Residents in northern and central Arizona broke out their snow shovels for a second day, as trees shook off snow that had been weighing them down. The winter weather forced some school delays and closures, but the state’s major roadways were open. State Department of Transportation officials, however, urged residents to be cautious when encountering patches of snow and ice.

A huge black cloud loomed over central Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon, giving the appearance of dusk. Puddles of water lingered on the sidewalks as forecasters called for a quarter-inch or more of rain on Tuesday.

Chris Kuhlman of the weather bureau in Phoenix said that should put the city over its December average for rainfall, which is 0.88 inches. But Phoenix still will be well below its yearly to-date average of 7.5 inches, he said.

Southeastern Arizona was dealing with a rare bout of prolonged rain, while the mountains saw heavy snow. The storm was expected to give Tucson more rain Tuesday than it typically gets all month, said meteorologist Craig Shoemaker.

Up to 30 inches of snow were expected on mountaintops in southeastern and eastern Arizona.

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