Tag Archives: Flagstaff

A desert freeze

Not all deserts are hot. That’s one thing that you learn early on in meteorology school. A desert is simply an area that doesn’t get a lot of precipitation. Antarctica is a desert. Northern Arizona is at a much higher elevation than the sweltering heat of Phoenix, but they too are in a desert. Flagstaff, for example, saw no rain on the 3rd and 4th of this month, and in fact, temperatures dipped below freezing on the morning of the 2nd (last Tuesday). Still a desert! Accuweather stepped up and had the top forecast for Flagstaff.
Actuals: Tuesday – High 72, Low 30
Wednesday – High 72, Low 35

Grade: B-D

Flagstaff, Arizona

It’s been a dismal start to the week for the country east of the Rockies, but in the mountains and points westward, life is a little bit better. Let’s go to northern Arizona.

At 957PM, Flagstaff is reporting a temperature of 50 degrees with clear skies.  A ridge of high pressure is moving further inland, likely tamping down any clouds overnight.
Surface high pressure will get stronger as the upper level ridge becomes more firmly entrenched over the western US. This may set up a bit of a Santa Ana situation over Southern California, and contribute to a bit of a warm up in Flagstaff.
Tomorrow – Sunny, High 70, Low 35
Wednesday – Sunny, High 70, Low 38

TWC: Tomorrow – A mainly sunny sky High 72, Low 35
Wednesday – Generally sunny. high 70, Low 39

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny and pleasant High 72, Low 33
Wednesday – Mostly sunny High 71, Low 39

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 71, Low 35
Wednesday  – Sunny, High 70, Low 41

WB: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 71, Low 35
Wednesday – Mostly Sunny, HIgh 68, Low 40

WN: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 70, Low 36
Wednesday – Mostly Sunny, High 70,Low 39

FIO: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy starting in the afternoon, continuing until evening. High 77, Low 42
Wednesday – Clear throughout the day. High 72, Low, 42

I’m inclined to believe that FIO doesn’t know the elevation of Flagstaff. Here is a look at the western US satellite imagery.  There really isn’t anything going on for most of the SW.

Bakersfield, California to Flagstaff, Arizona

This forecast should be a reminder: The states are much bigger out west. We are only going to touch two states, Arizona and California, and yet it will still be an 8 hour drive. The two towns are 482 miles apart, and despite a drive over desert interstates, we will only average 61.7mph. There should be some pretty good scenery, and we will be able to cover all the ground that needs covering in one day. One stinkin’ hot day.

There has been a fairly stagnant area of low pressure that has been feeding the monsoonal thunderstorms that crop up every day this time of year in the Four Corners. Some of the activity has, in recent days, shifted to afflict the Intermontaine Plateau between California and Arizona. The heat will be on until we start to climb the plateau, but it won’t be dusty because of the recent rains. The disturbance that had fostered the wet weather was a thermal system, and the rain has essentially squashed the low, and has rendered the area stable. Expect a sunny, dry and clear drive through the Mojave.


Flagstaff, Arizona to Las Cruces, New Mexico

We are in for one of the most lonely one day road trips I can remember. We are going to head from northern Arizona to southern New Mexico in about one full day. The largest city we pass through in nearly 8 hours of driving? Maybe Socorro? Winslow? Big names, all. It’s 475 miles between the two cities, and believe it or not, there aren’t any major highways connecting the two cities, and our pace will be 62.5 miles. Lets hit that dusty, lonely road.

We are in the monsoon season for the southern Rockies, and showers and storms cropping up around the higher elevations should be expected. They are cropping up around three or four in the afternoon for residents of the mountain time zone, and we really shouldn’t expect much different. About an hour after passing into New Mexico from Arizona, we should expect to see some storm clouds over head. These storms won’t be torrential. In fact, there may even be a stray dry thunderstorm. The Organ Mountains of southern New Mexico, surrounding Las Cruces may be the most active stretch of highway that we encounter. There is a chance, though, that rain is falling over the mountains when we arrive, but not in the city of Las Cruces.

Kalamazoo, Michigan to Flagstaff, Arizona

We are on the road again. If you plan on taking this trip, I would guess that you are off to visit the Grand Canyon with the family for a summer vacation. It’s a three day drive from Michigan to Arizona, if you don’t have to make a lot of stops. In general, we should manage 66.5mph over 177 miles. Days one and two will be through after 532 miles of driving, leaving the last step a bit longer than the first two. Turn on those back seat DVD players for the kids, because we are on our way to Flagstaff!


When we leave Kalamazoo, it will be warm, increasingly humid and sunny. Through the day, rain and a few thunderstorms will move into Michigan as a weak area of low pressure comes sliding in, but by that point, we will be headed south of there, on our way to Missouri. It will be hot, steamy and sunny the whole way down. In Missouri, with a bit of vegetation, it’s going to be very humid. The night will be marked by fitful sleep in the sticky conditions of Jerome, Missouri, right between Fort Leonard Wood and Rolla.

More hot weather, more humidity, and our drive on Friday won’t be long enough to reach the dry line, so it should still be steamy. It’s going to be hot and dusty as we head west through Oklahoma City and eventually on to Texola, which is on the border with Texas.

The monsoon over the Rockies has been getting going after about 4 or 5 PM, and is going to set up along our route over New Mexico. We should be well into Arizona before the storms start popping on Saturday. The change in elevation and drop in humidity will make life a lot more bearable as we arrive in Flagstaff.

Flagstaff, Arizona to Battle Creek, Michigan

The Desert Southwest. The Great Lakes. What do these two places have in common? Today’s road trip! It’s 1,803 miles between these 2 cities and it’ll take 4 days to cover it. Away we go!


While a trough digs its way into the Central US behind the intense front bringing severe weather to the Eastern US, high pressure is nosing its way into the Great Basin. Some high clouds are expected as we mosey along I-40 through Houck, Gallup, Albuquerque and eventually into Santa Rosa, our 1st stop after a rather uneventful day.


More of the same from yesterday! High pressure continues to build eastward, and combined with an area of high pressure that’s built over the Gulf Coast, is making for another pretty quiet day as we make our way through the TX Panhandle and through Oklahoma City to our eventual stop, Tulsa, for night two.


After nearly 2 full days on I-40, we start heading off towards the northeast so we can get to our ultimate destination! Our friendly high pressure system continues to shift eastward, keeping the weather along our trip fairly benign through St. Louis and onwards into central Illinois. We could see some fresh snow on the ground as we near Springfield from a possible system moving through the state during the early morning hours, but it will be A-OK by the time we arrive for the night.


The final leg! High pressure will have pressed eastward over the East Coast, and with an area of low pressure developing over Central Canada back over the Northern Rockies, winds will be on the increase for most of the Central US this day. We might have some low to mid-level clouds to contend with at the onset of the day, and could linger through the morning, but ultimately will break up as we continue towards Chicago and eventually into Lower Michigan. Should be a decent afternoon to finish our trip as we cruise past Kalamazoo into Battle Creek!

Flagstaff, Arizona

We’re off to our favorite southwestern location (or so it seems) with a forecast for Flagstaff. The first day of March, and meteorological spring! IT’s a good day all around.

At 1257PM, MT, Flagstaff was reporting a temperature of 39 degrees with sunny skies and a gusty west wind. A slow moving ridge is pushing its way ashore, with the jet running directly atop the 4 Corners area, helping generate some gusty wind and mountain snow in Colorado.
A dry cold front associated with an inflection in the jet will cool things off tomorrow, but then Flagstaff will enjoy some warming temperatures with north winds abating and becoming more variable. Sunny skies will be the norm for Flagstaff, and winds tapering off will create a very pleasant beginning to the month of March. In like a lamb in Flagstaff!
Tomorrow – Breezy and sunny, High 35, Low 18
Saturday – Sunny and warmer, High 46, Low 16

TWC: Tomorrow – Sunny and windy High 35, Low 13
Saturday – A mainly sunny sky High 46, Low 14

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, becoming windier and cold high 34, Low 18
Saturday – Bright sunshine and warmer High 45, Low 16

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 35, Low 21
Saturday – Sunny, High 43, Low 12

WB: Tomorrow – Breezy…colder. Partly cloudy in the morning…then becoming mostly sunny. High 32, Low 21
Saturday – Not as cool. Mostly sunny. high 44, Low 12

So Weatherbug is going cooler tomorrow than the rest of us. There is a smattering of high clouds over northern Arizona, not showing much, just that it’s going to be a bit bumpy for any air travelers in the area.

Don’t question the monsoon

All synoptic features, all meteorological forecast model guidance suggested that the plume of seasonal, monsoonal moisture would be in New Mexico the last two days. Naturally, both Tuesday and Wednesday, one little cell popped up right over Flagstaff. It really was a lot less widespread in northern Arizona, though. Flagstaff just got unlucky. The Weather Channel was able to parlay that unlucky couple of hours in Flagstaff into a victory in the first forecast of August.
Actuals: Tuesday – Thunderstorms reported, not measured, High 80, Low 50
Wednesday – .01 inches of rain, High 82, Low 51

Grade: B

Flagstaff, Arizona to Lincoln, Nebraska

AS soon as we arrive, we will be on our way out of Flagstaff, taking a two day trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. It is a rather mountainous 1266 miles, but western interstates have outrageous speed limits, so we will still average 70mph. Nice. Our first day will net ourselves a whopping 564 miles, and that ain’t bad. We are going to be able to really open ‘er up.


IF we are looking to avoid showers or storms, driving through monsoon world probably isn’t the best idea. The chances for thunderstorms will begin not long after we leave Flagstaff and will probably be a concern for the bulk of the day. The activity will pick up around Holbrook, bu the heaviest rain and storms will come between Gallup and Las Vegas, which isn’t the one you are thinking of. We will be driving through some rain shadow New Mexico prairie from then on, but don’t be surprised if there is another drop of rain here and there, especially as we approach Raton. The end of the day will be just across the Raton Pass in Colorado in Wootton.
Driving through Colorado will be an adventure in hit or miss showers. There won’t be much if it does rain (likely south of Colorado Springs) but it is an acknowledgeable possibility. Most of the showers and storms across Nebraska will actually our pace us. There will be some showers and storms that develop around Ogallala, Nebraska, but after we have made our way through that burgh. In fact, after we have crossed the Palmer Divide, I would be willing to guess we stay rain free for the rest of the trip.