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Rain, snow, bring some relief to drought stricken Southwest

The Weather Network logo The Weather Network 2/14/2018 The Weather Network: News

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As of this past Tuesday February 6th most of the southwest from southern California into New Mexico and Colorado where in a moderate drought situation. Close to 50% of the Four Corner states where also experiencing severe drought conditions while isolated areas of southeast Arizona even suffered extreme drought.

Drought has been increasing steadily across the entire southwest since the beginning of 2018. This week however, a series of low pressure systems moving across the region will bring rain and snow showers to all four states.

Weather Highlights:

  • Active storm track for western half of the nation through the week
  • Dangerously low wind chills for northern Rockies midweek
  • Areas of heavy snow and dangerous travel conditions expected for portions of the central and southern Rockies¬†¬†
  • Additional heavy snow possible across the higher elevations of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies by mid to late week
  • Pacific Northwest/Northern Rockies can expect 1 to 2 feet of snow through Thursday
  • Great Basin/Southern Rockies/Southwest can expect anywhere from 3 inches of snow to 1.5 feet. by Thursday night

Unfortunately, southern California will only get a small piece of the pie, since most of the moisture moving in from the Pacific will flow along a powerful subtropical jet stream into portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and northwest Mexico. 

The persistent onshore flow will also bring some showers across coastal and foothill areas of southern California from about San Luis Obispo to San Diego. However, precipitation amounts will be on the lighter side and are not expected to exceed half an inch in most areas over the next 5 days.

Rain showers locally intense in southern Arizona

Most of the precipitation falling across Arizona and New Mexico will be in the form of rain, however further to the north across Utah and Colorado snow showers are more likely. Drivers should keep an eye on road conditions due to snow and ice in local roads and in I-15 across southwest Utah, I-70 from Utah to Colorado and and I-25 from northern New Mexico into southern Colorado.

The greatest precipitation amounts are expected to fall across sections of southeast Arizona and northern Mexico. Some areas could pick-up anywhere from 2 to 3 inches between Tuesday and Sunday, but rainfall amounts in most places are expected to oscillate between a trace and half an inch over the 5 day period.

Snow can to extend as far south as central Arizona, although the largest snow accumulations are likely to occur across mountain areas of Utah and Colorado. Significant snow is also expected in northwest Arizona around the Grand Canyon plateaus, and in northern New Mexico across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. All these mountain ranges could see anywhere from one to two feet of snow by the weekend.

Tuesday snow showers will slowly tapper-off during the afternoon and nighttime hours. Wednesday will be a transition day before the next storm rolls in from the northwest on Thursday. The instability around this active low pressure center together with the injection of Pacific moisture from the southwest will bring some additional inches to the same mountain areas affected by the early week storms.

Temperatures cool down

West to southwest winds will be gusty at times across the Four Corner states during the first half of the week, especially on the leeward side of the Rockies. By Friday, as high pressure builds into the southwest, winds will switch to a northerly component becoming gusty at times with speeds above 30 mph. The shift in wind direction will cause a significant cool down on Friday, although temperatures will most likely bounce back in many areas over the weekend.

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