KINGMAN – Kingman residents may experience a rare weather event this weekend – snow.
The National Weather Service Office in Las Vegas issued a forecast Thursday morning for northwest Arizona that calls for a 30 percent chance of precipitation today, with the snow level dropping from 4,000 feet to 3,000 feet by afternoon.
There’s a 40-percent chance of rain with snow possible down to 3,500 feet tonight.
The NWS says there is a 50-percent chance of rain or snow here from Saturday into Sunday night.
“A shower can’t be ruled out for you during the day (today),” said Ken Clark, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. “But there’s a better chance of rain or snow showers (tonight) and during the day Saturday into Saturday night.
“This could be the biggest storm to hit your area since mid-October when you got 1.89 inches of rain Oct. 17-18.”
Clark said snow accumulations are likely only above 4,500 feet, so children may not have the opportunity to build snowmen. A snow shower is possible Sunday, although most of the precipitation from the approaching storm should be over by then.
The storm expected to bring the welcome precipitation formed in the Gulf of Alaska and was moving south Thursday off the coasts of Washington and Oregon.
“If it had come a month earlier, we would be talking about snow levels that are extremely low,” Clark said.
Kingman has received 2.04 inches of rain since Oct. 1, just 41 percent of the normal amount of 5.03 inches.
However, that is deceiving because 1.89 inches fell during two days in mid-October. Just .15 inches has fallen since then, which is 3 percent of the normal 4.58 inches, Clark said.
There was no precipitation here in February, a month in which 1.07 inches is normal.
“You’re in a pattern that began setting up in mid- to late fall with La Nina, which means you can expect drier-than-normal weather,” Clark said.
La Nina is a weather phenomenon in which Pacific Ocean surface temperatures cool in the equatorial region south of Hawaii.
That cooling influences the jet stream, causing it to shift northward and take storms into Washington and Oregon instead of Southern California and Arizona, said Randy Cerveny, professor of geography at Arizona State University.
“The storm coming your way will start as rain Friday and by Friday night you could get some snow,” Cerveny said.
“But an even bigger thing is going to be the winds, especially Friday, due to the intensity of the system. It’s a well-wrapped low pressure system and when you get one that strong on the high plateau you tend to get winds that can be in the 40-50 miles per hour range in mountain passes.”
Cerveny said the storm would undoubtedly be the big rain event of the winter for Arizona. But he does not expect more than a half-inch to fall in the Kingman area.