Green Valley Lake strollers in shorts and Tj-shirts jonesing for the onset of spring on Thursday had a rude surprise waiting for them on Friday.
Thursday’s robin’s egg blue skies ill prepared Rim Country residents for Friday’s forecast from the National Weather Service (NOAA) warning strollers to get out their snow gear. A fast-moving Pacific storm should dump rain and snow from the coast of California to the Midwest.
Satellite pictures show a vast cloud cover barreling down on Arizona that stretches from Idaho to Baja California.
The NOAA has issued the storm warning from 6 a.m. Friday morning to midnight on Saturday for elevations above 5,500 feet.
The National Weather Service predicts snow accumulation at the higher elevations from 8 to 14 inches above 6,000 feet, five to eight inches from 5,500 to 6,000 feet and one to four inches between 4,500 and 5,550 feet.
The NOAA Web site says, “A Pacific storm system will move through the southwest on Friday and Saturday producing much colder temperatures with widespread rain and snow across Northern Arizona.”
By Sunday, the NOAA predicts the area will start to see drier weather.
As rumors of the storm spread around Rim Country, organizations that had planned outdoor events on Saturday cancelled. For instance, the Payson Community Garden will delay its opening a week. Meanwhile, participants in A Taste of the Rim are hoping it all works out.
“We’ll be coming back from an event in Phoenix to do the event, I hope it all works out,” said Devon Wells, director of the Payson High School Culinary Arts program.
By Thursday afternoon, wind gusts had increased to the 20-30 mph range. The NOAA said by Friday morning temperatures will drop by 20 degrees to hover in the 40s until Sunday when they will reach the high 50s.
Snow in March is really no surprise. On average, Payson gets 4.7 inches of snow and 2.5 inches of rain — more than in December and just barely less than in January and February.