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Southern Arizona braces for a major winter storm

Posted at 6:01 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 20:01:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Snow got low on New Year’s Day and it happened again and again.

Then a washout on Valentine's Day followed by much colder than normal temperatures.

“It feels really cold, my eyes are tearing up from the wind out here,” said Amanda Leinberger walking to her job at the University of Arizona. “I live in Arizona because it doesn't normally get this cold out here.

Arizonans are not used to this and now a major winter storm is approaching. Tucson could get over an inch of rain pushing this February into the top ten wettest on record.

“It's a very cold storm coming straight from the north, and one thing unusual it has a lot of moisture from that direction” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Glenn Lader.

The national weather service is forecasting feet of snow and blizzard conditions in the mountains, and it could hit lower elevations harder than any other time this season.

“Bisbee and Oracle are going to be seeing a lot of snow, more than they are used to, probably around a foot of snow for those locations,” said Lader.

There is a silver lining to the clouds.

“It is good for us to get rain we need the water,” said Leinberger.

Tucson water says rain in the valleys and snow in the mountains can help to replenish some groundwater in our area. It also means a decrease in usage for things like irrigation. But experts say not to get too excited about a heavy storm in southern Arizona helping to fix the drought. Back to back snowy winters in the Rockies is really the only thing that can help replenish the our water supply from the Colorado River system.

“Locally here it is great, but it doesn't have much of an impact,” said Lader.

This unusual weather may have people snow-birding to other areas to escape the Arizona winter.

“I have heard we're getting another storm this weekend so I'm a little sad to be missing it, but at the same time glad I'll be in California,” said Leinberger.