FLAGSTAFF, AZ - The snowmen that dot the landscape and the snow piled alongside driveways didn't have much of a chance to melt ahead of a storm that could bring several inches of snow to parts of northern Arizona.
The fast-moving storm will hit Arizona from west to east Tuesday evening before leaving the state Wednesday with temperatures that will be 10-15 degrees below normal, the National Weather Service said. Residents in Flagstaff, Window Rock and Show Low could be shoveling up to 8 inches of snow, while Prescott and Payson are predicted to receive up to 4 inches. The desert areas will see scattered rain showers.
Two recent storms had combined to blanket the mountains north of Flagstaff with 2 feet of snow, about 20 inches in Flagstaff and along the Mogollon Rim, and about 6 inches in Prescott. The snowfall put Flagstaff above its nearly 17-inch normal for December with the snowiest month yet to come in January.
"We still have some considerable snowpack around, so we will get snowfall on top of that," said Robert Rickey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.
The snowpack has allowed two Arizona ski resorts to open this week, the Arizona Snowbowl outside Flagstaff and Sunrise Park Resort near Greer.
For those traveling over the weekend for the holidays, the weather won't be as bitter. Warmer temperatures return Thursday and will back to near-normal on Friday and through the weekend, Rickey said.
Until then, the major roadways in northern Arizona are expected to be an icy and slushy mess. Gusty winds that send snow blowing through the air also could limit visibility.
Another storm system could cross the state Sunday night through Monday morning, though forecasters say the exact timing is uncertain as well as the amount of snow it could bring.