Residents of Prescott likely live in town for one big reason. Days like those they saw at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Temperatures were in the mid 70s for highs with bright sunshine and cool lows overnight. Not the scorching heat to the south, no humidity and just some fantastic days to spend outdoors, really participating in any activity one might want to do. The Weather Channel and Clime were able to tie atop the leaderboard. Perhaps the forecasters can be rewarded with a trip to Prescott. Actuals: Friday, High 75, Low 51 Saturday, High 75, Low 45
Arizona has a reputation as being a hot, nearly desolate place in the summer, outside of Phoenix, which is simply hot. Many population centers in Arizona though, have sought refuge in the cooler mountains in the rest of the state. Prescott is one of those towns!
At 1253PM, PT, Prescott was reporting clear skies and a temperature of 75 degrees. As if to illustrate the point of a chillier time in the mountains, the Sun Valley and Phoenix remained in the upper 90s. Temperatures were decided by elevation, and moisture was relatively low. The dry line straddling the Texas-New Mexico border was active, and keeping Prescott and the southwest out of the monsoon, which was already ongoing in the central Rockies. Aiding the dry line was a weak area of low pressure that had found its way to an anchorage in the southwestern corner of the US. A blocking pattern in the center of the US was going to keep this regime in place for the next several days at least, with moisture kicked up and around the Grand Canyon State. The low pressure will help ensure temperatures in Prescott don’t match those found at lower elevations and to the south for the duration of the forecast period. Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 72, Low 49 Saturday – Mostly sunny, high 76, Low 49
TWC: Tomorrow – Mainly sunny, High 73, Low 48 Saturday – Sunny, High 75, low 46
AW: Tomorrow – Plenty of sun; breezy in the afternoon High 77, Low 48 Saturday – Pleasant with plenty of sunshine High 77, Low 44
NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 77, Low 47 Tomorrow – Sunny, High 79, Low 47
WB: Tomorrow – Breezy, Sunny, high 72, Low 42 Saturday – Sunny, high 74, Low 41
WN: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 72, Low 44 Saturday – Mostly sunny, High 78, Low 47
CLI: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 73, Low 48 Saturday – Sunny, high 75, Low 46
The low temperature guidance is completely divergent, and it appears as though many of our competitors are heeding the longer range, larger scope models. I’m wary, because it is the higher resolution models that are going warmer. I tend to trust them a little bit more when terrain is in play. And thus, I am on the higher end of those low forecasts. Here is the satellite centered over New Mexico, highlighting the flow up and around Arizona.
As everyone is likely aware, the western US is embroiled in a drought. The seasonal monsoon is helping in some spots, but at the beginning of the monsoon wasn’t able to bring a whole lot of rain to Prescott, among the many locales that is in a deficit right now. If there was any good news, I guess it was that the heat wasn’t as overbearing as it can be in the southwest. The Weather Service and Weathernation conspired to tie for the top forecast. Actuals: Monday – High 93, Low 66 Tuesday – Rain reported, not measured, High 91, Low 73
For whatever reason, we don’t get a lot of trips that are spent entirely out west, like this one. It will last nearly a full, and will cover 481 miles at a pace of 63.2mph, thanks to the lower capacity roads through the desert. Looks like it’s time to get moving.
The afternoon monsoon looks to be full and robust tomorrow in the Four Corners region. That means very little for us, however. Prescott will have a slim chance for some afternoon showers and storms, but by that time, we will be deep into the Mohave, hoping our tires don’t melt to the road in the heat. Temperatures will easily reach the triple digits tomorrow in Bakersfield, and you have to imagine it will climb even warmer before we reach town in rural California.
The heat has been extraordinary in the southwest, but Prescott is often in a more favorable weather pattern than their gigantic neighbors to the southeast. How does that translate this time around?
At 753PM, PT, Prescott was reporting a temperature of 80 degrees with clear skies. Some monsoonal rain showers were appearing on radar west of town, and a brisk west wind likely represented outflow, especially given the southeasterly winds of similar magnitude in Kingman. Guidance suggests a stronger ridge tomorrow over the central Rockies, which will stifle the monsoon and lead to a hot dry day in Prescott. Expect some weakening of the ridge and an amplification of the monsoon. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms will be most common in the higher terrain nearer the New Mexico border, but the coverage is expected to increase on Tuesday. Showers and storms are likely to crop up near Prescott, and it’s tough to leave it out of the forecast for Tuesday. Tomorrow – Sunny and hot, High 96, Low 68 Tuesday – Isolated thunderstorms, especially after noon, High 89, Low 68
TWC: Tomorrow – Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible High 91, Low 70 Tuesday – Some sun in the morning with increasing clouds during the afternoon. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 89, Low 69
AW: Tomorrow – Partial sunshine with a thundershower in spots in the afternoon High 92, Low 70 Tuesday – Intervals of clouds and sun with a thunderstorm around in the afternoon High 87, Low 70
NWS: Tomorrow – A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Mostly sunny, High 93, Low 69 Tuesday – A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, High 89, Low 69
WB: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms, High 90, Low 71 Tuesday – Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms, High 85, Low 71
WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with chance of storms High 93, Low 69 Tuesday – Partly cloudy with scattered showers, High 89, Low 69
FIO: Tomorrow – Clear throughout the day. High 93, Low 69 Tuesday – Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High 88, Low 67
I should note that it is 20 degrees cooler in Prescott than it was in Phoenix. Some of it is surely the thunderstorm nearby, seen on radar below.
Here’s something you might not know about Arizona: It’s a very dry place. Dew points in Prescott hit the low 20s early last week, which is fine in the summer, but it means temperatures can really cool off in the evenings. A little bit of moisture moved in on Monday, and while it was warmer over night, there were also clouds and slightly cooler temperatures in the afternoon. Weatherbug had the top forecast in Prescott, but it was a fairly level playing field. Actuals: Sunday (19th) High 60, Low 25 Monday (20th) High 55, Low 34
I think this might be the first road trip of the year, right? It will be a 3 day trip through the heart of the country, covering 1689 miles at a pace of about 65mph. That will mean the first two days will be complete after just short of 520 miles on days 1 and 2, with a 10 hour day coming on Sunday. 2020, here we come!
DAY ONE (Friday)
We are headed for a trip through the southern Rockies at the right time. Atmospheric instability is confined to the central Plains for the most part, with a dose in the northern Rockies, leaving Arizona and New Mexico fairly unperturbed. We’ll check in on Flagstaff and Albuquerque on our eastward journey, stopping west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico to end our day and our work week.
DAY TWO (Saturday) As we continue to the east, we’ll slice through a couple of Panhandles before spending the rest of the day in southern Kansas. I don’t recall ever spending much time in this part of the world on a road trip, and I especially don’t remember cutting through Wichita to get anywhere. Usually, it’s just a bypass on I-35. Not this time! Instead, we will enjoy an increasingly warm day, free of any atmospheric interference before we reach El Dorado, where we will end our day. Along the way, appreciate Greensburg, a city that has had to completely rebuild after a devastating tornado in 2007.
DAY THREE (Sunday) Sure, this day will be the longest, and it will also be the gloomiest, with clouds becoming much more likely thanks to a combination of general troughiness* over the Plains, and the melting snow north of Kansas City leading to clouds and fog along most of the route. On the other hand, at least the car won’t be unbearably hot because of the penetrative sun, and we will get to see Des Moines! And Dubuque! Both are very nice towns. So is Madison, for those unaware.
Prescott is the sweet spot of Arizona. Not as hot as Phoenix in the summer, not as snowy as Flagstaff in the winter. Sweet.
At 753PM, MT, Prescott was reporting clear skies with a temperature of 40 degrees. Clear skies have moved across Arizona in the wake of a fairly wet week across the state. A high amplitude but somewhat shortwave trough is rolling through the western US, allowing for surface high pressure across the Intermountain West. Expect continued zonal flow across Arizona, which should mean a few scattered clouds in Prescott. Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 62, Low 27 Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 59, Low 32
TWC: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny skies. High 60, Low 29 Monday -Cloudy. High 59, Low 33
AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny High 60, Low 27 Monday – Mostly cloudy High 60, Low 30
NWS: Tomorrow Sunny, High 57, Low 29 Monday – Mostly cloudy High 57, Low 35
WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny in the morning, then becoming partly cloudy, High 59, Low 30 Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 57, Low 34
WN: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 57, Low 29 Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 57, Low 34
FIO: Tomorrow – Clear throughout the day, High 59, Low 30 Monday – Overcast throughout the day. High 59, Low 34
Well, that’s about it. Pretty easy breezy, if I’m being honest. Take a look at this fairly tranquil satellite imagery. I can see Phoenix!