Storm Postmortem: A wet & white start to 2016

Mother Nature kicked off the new year with a saguaro soaker.

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One week featured a trio of storm systems that swept through the desert southwest. It was a textbook El Nino-influenced weather pattern. Warmer than normal waters in the eastern Pacific shifted the jet stream over the state. This allowed three rounds of valley rain & mountain snow.

Rain Totals 010816

Our initial forecast called for 1-2” rain between Monday and Friday. It came to fruition. Officially, Tucson International Airport picked up 1.53” rain this week. The Casa de Beamish backyard gauge in Oro Valley registered just under 2”. Heaviest amounts resided southeast of Tucson proper, including Corona de Tucson and Vail.

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Meanwhile in the mountains, our initial forecast of 24-36” snow during the week verified. My estimates (with the help of viewers like you & NWS Tucson) added up to 33” snow in Hannagan Meadow, with over 2 feet atop Mount Lemmon. Ski Valley is slated to open Saturday, according to their Facebook page.

The only surprise was how quickly & how far the snow levels dropped Thursday. This was thanks to heavy rain cooling the surrounding air rapidly, allowing for a switch-over to wet snow above 2,600 feet. Between 2:30 and 3:00 PM, the temperature dropped from 42° to 37° at Casa de Beamish.

Low elevation snow accumulations were noted from Oro Valley (0.25”) to Catalina (0.8”) and SaddleBrooke (1.8”). Sure made for some gorgeous Sky Candy! Many thanks to all for sharing your photos with us!

How much rain/snow fell in your backyard? Leave your totals in the comments below. Don’t forget to include your location.

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