PHOENIX - Our first big taste of winter weather is on the way.
A major storm system will move into Arizona late Thursday and Friday, bringing a huge drop in temperatures along with lots of Valley rain and mountain snow.
The storm will hit western Arizona early Thursday afternoon bringing rain to places like Bullhead City and Lake Havasu, before spreading eastward Thursday night and Friday morning.
Winds will increase ahead of this system with gusts near 35 mph just west and southwest of the Valley. That means we may see areas of blowing dust before any rain chances arrive.
The best time frame for heavy rain in the Valley will be between midnight and 10 a.m. on Friday with up to an inch possible.
The snow level will drop to 5,000 feet by Friday morning, which means we will see snow on the highest peaks north and east of the Valley, including Four Peaks where four to eight inches are possible.
Up north, expect six to 10 inches of snow in cities along the Mogollon Rim, including Flagstaff. Window Rock on the Navajo Nation is expected to get up to 6 inches of snow in the upcoming storm with up to 8 inches in Show Low.
Interstate 17 south of Flagstaff and parts of Interstate 40 will be slick and snow-covered all day Friday with some back country roads impassable.
We're told Northern Arizona University has pushed back its Friday morning commencement ceremony and combined two ceremonies scheduled for later in the day because of the storm. They are also urging students who don't plan to participate or attend graduation to leave campus as early as possible Thursday to avoid the bad weather and cut down on traffic.
Flagstaff is way behind on their snowfall so far this season. On average, they should have received 18 inches by now, but have only seen 1.1 inches.
The average snowfall in the month of December alone is 17.9 inches.
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