Storm on the horizon, but winter forecast to be warmer than last
KINGMAN – The winter storm watch for areas of northwestern Arizona above 4,000 feet has been elevated to a winter storm warning, which according to the National Weather Service, means Thanksgiving travel will be “very hazardous or impossible.”
Chris Outler, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, explained that there is a powerful winter system coming out of the Pacific Northwest.
“What’s unusual about this system is that it’s pretty cold, especially for so early in the year,” Outler said.
But the Kingman area may not have to deal with especially cold temperatures in general this winter.
“Right now, the jury is still out on exactly how the winter will play out,” Outler said.
He added that for the time being, there are equal chances that this winter will be drier, wetter or near normal. And while winter precipitation totals are still up in the air, NWS has a firmer grasp on what temperatures could look like.
“We do have higher confidence that this winter will trend a little bit warmer than normal,” the forecaster said.
So Kingman residents can look forward to a winter a tad warmer than usual. However, winter conditions are in store for the remainder of the week.
Outler said areas above 4,000 feet, such as the Hualapai Mountains, could receive 1 to 2 feet of snow with the coming storm. Kingman proper, keeping in mind that NWS takes its measurements at the Kingman Municipal Airport, could receive around an inch of snow. The foothills could see an extra inch or two.
Outler noted that most of the area’s impending snow will come toward the back end of the storm, which unfortunately for holiday travelers, falls on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 28.
“Thanksgiving afternoon and evening, after dark Thanksgiving night, that’s when we really will start to see snow fall,” he said.
Here’s a quick look at winter conditions for the coming days:
A slight chance of snow before 10 a.m. today, Wednesday, Nov. 27, was forecast as of Tuesday afternoon. A slight chance of precipitation, rain and snow, remains between 10 a.m. and noon, after which there will remain a chance for rain. That slight chance is about 20%.
The chance for precipitation jumps to 70% Wednesday night, but with a forecast low of around 38, people won’t need to worry about snow.
The chance for rain on Thanksgiving Day is high at 90%. From that point in time, as the sun goes down, snow could be in store for the area. The temperature will drop Thursday night to near freezing temperatures, currently forecast at around 33 degrees. The chance for precipitation will still be 90%.
Friday, Nov. 29 will see a chance of rain and snow prior to noon, then just rain until 3 p.m. Precipitation will shift back to rain and snow after 3 p.m. Friday night’s temperature will drop to approximately 26 degrees, but there is only a chance of snow before 11 p.m.
Before getting excited that some of the forecast snow could end up being rain, keep in mind that wet roads in cold weather can lead to headaches for motorists.
“East of Kingman heading toward Flagstaff, road conditions will get very dicey and sloppy in that direction,” Outler said, speaking to slush-covered roads. “There’s a high probability of intermittent road closures on I-40 due to wintery conditions.”
Those who have no choice but to travel during the storm are advised by NWS to prepare for winter conditions, possible delays and cancellations. Those who must get from Point A to Point B are advised to pack a flashlight, food and water in case of an emergency.
But if one doesn’t need to hit the roads, then they should stay home, or at least local.
“The big thing we’re pushing with the holiday travel period is if you can stay home or stay local, try to do it,” Outler said. “Traveling out of town or in the mountains or impacted travel corridors, it’s going to be pretty dicey.”
The National Weather Service winter storm warning for elevations above 4,000 feet is in effect from 5 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 30.