KINGMAN - The "Arctic Express" that often invades the Midwest and east in the winter is paying a pre-winter visit to Arizona.
The result Wednesday included a biting wind that made cold weather absolutely frigid for those outdoors. At 7 a.m. today it was 23 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like 12.
"A big trough of cold air with a storm is working its way across the Rockies into our area," said Randy Cerveny, professor of geography at Arizona State University.
"Utah and Colorado can expect nasty snowstorms, and over the next couple of days, there probably will be severe storms and some tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi."
John Salmen, a staff meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, agreed.
"Over the past three weeks, a big pool of cold air in Alaska dropped temperatures there into the minus 40s," Salmen said.
"That storm system moved down through Canada into the Northwest and now has come further south and is centered over Utah."
The counterclockwise rotation around a low-pressure system in the Northern Hemisphere is bringing the cold air into Arizona as the system moves eastward across Utah.
The Weather Channel reported the air temperature in Kingman at 5 a.m. Wednesday was 35 degrees. The wind chill factor was 25. At 5 a.m. this morning, 24 hours later, those figures were 19 and 7, respectively.
A freeze warning, the first of the season, was in effect after midnight night for the Kingman area, where temperatures were expected to dip into the mid-20s.
The NWS is forecasting nighttime temperatures in the 20s at least through Monday and additional freeze warnings are possible. Pets should not be left outdoors, sensitive outdoor plants should be covered and exposed pipes wrapped during a freeze warning, Salmen said.
"One thing people tend to forget is that the coldest overnight temperatures don't occur at midnight," Cerveny said. "They occur at sunrise, so keep plants covered with a bedsheet until 10 a.m. or so. Don't take off the sheet when you go to work in the morning.
"Bring pets inside or make sure they have good outdoor shelter with straw and hay to lie in for added warmth."
Cerveny also said hoses left outdoors should be drained of all water to prevent freezing and cracking.
Average maximum and minimum temperatures in Kingman during December are 54.8 and 31.8 degrees. Normal precipitation that month is .94 inches.
There has been no precipitation in November, a month in which the community normally gets .74 inches.
Salmen said NWS models do not indicate any warming of temperatures during the next 10 days.
The current weather pattern of extreme temperatures now hitting Kingman suggests the possibility of a warm-up in mid-December, Cerveny said.
The El Nino in the eastern Pacific Ocean remains weak at present but could become more moderate in intensity during the winter with consequences for Arizona, Salmen said.
El Nino is a phenomenon in which warm water from the western Pacific moves east and accumulates off the coast of South America. Surface temperatures rise with an impact on global weather patterns.
"El Nino is still chugging along, and we hope it will influence the jet stream to bring us more storms," Cerveny said. "The one in Utah now could be the first of several such storms during an El Nino winter."
The Climate Prediction Center in Silver Spring, Md., is projecting near normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation in northwest Arizona during the next 90 days, Cerveny said.
"They're saying above-normal precipitation into May, so they're sticking with an El Nino forecast for a wet winter," he said.