Fresno, California to Tucson, Arizona

I think the southwestern US is fascinating, geographically. It’s so different than where almost everyone in the country lives, especially when you have to pass from one population hub to another. It will take one long day to cover the 703 miles this drive will take. Our pace will be at 68mph, which is perfect for driving through the desert.

Fresno, California

Almost the entire country is sitting within an upper level trough. One part that isn’t is the west coast, where a sharp ridge is working to keep the Gulf of Alaska low at bay. Skies will be mostly sunny through southern California and western Arizona, but not completely clear. Valley fog will take a while to burn off initially, but should be out of the picture by the time we reach Bakersfield. With northerly jet flow particularly strong in the region, expect Arizona to be seasonably cool, if not a bit chillier, with cloudy skies possible, particularly west of Phoenix. Tucson is going to be a nice place to be this time of year, but may be a bit cooler than expected upon our arrival.

Tucson, Arizona

Blown out of the water

A cut off low off the Pacific Coast eventually brought a pretty healthy burst of snow, rain and thunderstorms to the middle of the country before shifting into eastern Canada and New England. Along the way, it mangled some temperature forecasts in the Tucson area. The specific credit for that can be given to the gusty winds that hit 30mph on the 7th, and in the 20mph range on the 8th. High temperatures on the 7th were warmer than expected, and the lows on the 8th were well above normal, all thanks to winds coming out of the southern Rockies and the arid plains of west Texas. The Weather Channel had the top forecast, but won narrowly as everyone had similar forecasts.
Actuals: December 7th – High 79, Low 39
December 8th – High 77, Low 55

Grade: D

(Please note, the days used in the forecast should have been “tomorrow” and “Tuesday” rather than Monday)

Atlanta, Georgia to Tucson, Arizona

Some drives are pretty easy to navigate, like this one, which will take us entirely via interstate from Georgia to Arizona. It will take us three days to cover the ground, specifically 1,733 miles of ground. The final day will last 10 hours, with the first two covering 533 miles, all at a pace of about 66.5mph. Thanks a lot, traffic.

DAY ONE (Wednesday)

Atlanta, Georgia

The weather in the south is looking brilliant. High pressure is rising from the south, not one of those Arctic domes of high pressure, so it won’t be terribly cold, either. We’ll slice through the south, from Atlanta to Grambling, Louisiana with ease. Just a terrific day for driving.

DAY TWO (Thursday)
The drive will continue to be fairly pleasant on Thursday, but it will be warmer than the drive on Friday. This is because of southerly flow caused by an area of low pressure charging from northern Mexico into the southern Rockies. It’s going to be a big deal for a lot of people late this week, but let’s not worry about that now. We will get to Big Springs and the Permian Basin after a long drive through more than half of Texs.

DAY THREE (Friday)
It’s going to be a bit different as we get going on Friday. After a night of rain and a few embedded thunderstorms, the last vestiges of precipitation will nearly be past Big Springs as we get going, and we should be out of it soon if it’s not done already. Cold air will be rushing in through eastern New Mexico into Texas. There will be plenty of sunshine, however, so getting out of the car for gas will be a real shock to the system. Snow will be falling in the mountains along the New Mexico-Arizona border, north of our route. We should make it into a surprisingly pleasant Tucson (temperatures, I mean, the people are always nice, I’m sure) late in the afternoon, just in time for dinner.

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

It’s been a very long time since we saw a forecast here, so I’m happy to be bringing this one to you, even if the Southwest doesn’t always have the most dynamic weather.

At 953PM, MT, Tucson was reporting clear skies and a temperature of 47 degrees. A cut off low sits over the southwestern US, allowing for the pocket of chilly air in the region, and evidenced by an elevated cold front visible on satellite over western Nevada.
The cut off low projects to be quite impactful for the middle of the country late next week, but for the remainder of the weekend into Monday, it will sag back over the ocean as it drifts to the south southwest. Moderately chilly temperatures with generally clear skies will continue in Tucson.
Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 73, Low 40
Monday – Fair skies, High 75, Low 40

TWC: Tomorrow – Mainly sunny. High 74, Low 42
Monday – Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny High 76, Low 45

AW: Tomorrow – Plenty of sun High 73, Low 42
Monday – Partly sunny and warm High 75, Low 45

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 73, Low 47
Monday – Mostly sunny, High 75, Low 41

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 72, Low 40
Monday – Partly cloudy, High 73, Low 44

WN: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 73, Low 37
Monday – Mostly sunny, High 75, Low 41

FIO: Tomorrow – Clear throughout the day. High 73, Low 38
Monday – Partly cloudy throughout the day. High 76, Low 38

Here is the satellite of the southwest tonight. Note the wispy cold front in western Nevada.

The desert damp

For most of us, a hundredth of an inch of rain is pretty inconsequential. In a place like Tucson, though, it is out of the ordinary, and forecasters should definitely attempt to account for any threat of it. Mea culpa. Last week, on the 8th, a hundredth of an inch did indeed fall on the city, which almost everyone handled correctly. It was a pretty snug forecast otherwise, a trend we have definitely been experiencing this year, and The Weather Channel ended up edging the competition.
Actuals: Sunday, March 8th, .01 inches of rain, High 66, Low 51
Monday – High 75, Low 44

Grade: B-C

Greensboro, North Carolina to Tucson, Arizona

After a trip to Greensboro, let’s take a lengthy trip from Greensboro. It’s going to take us 3 1/2 days to location to location, and it will require a pace of 71.2mph to cover our 2065 miles, which is downright blistering. We’ll cover 569.7 miles on those first three days, leaving a little bit left over for the fourth day. Westward ho.

DAY ONE (Sunday)

Greensboro, North Carolina

I am quite taken with the rapid pace we will take as we get started off towards Tucson. We’ll alight through 4 different states as we begin, both Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, where we will finish things off. High pressure is stout in the southeast, and we won’t have any weather concerns between Greensboro and Boligee, Alabama, where we are going to stop for the night.

DAY TWO (Monday)
Low pressure is emerging from the southern Rockies this weekend, and will be a rainy little system moving through the Plains. The tail of the cold front will dangle into the Lower Mississippi Valley as we also scoot through that same part of the country. Shower activity will be possible from about Ruston, Louisiana west into the Piney Woods of Texas. It should be cloudy but dry west of about the Tyler area, which will take us into the Metroplex by evening. The day will end in Fort Worth.

DAY THREE (Tuesday)
Leaving Fort Worth on Tuesday, we will enter the vast expanse of west Texas. It will be at it’s warm, dry and dusty best. There will be no well organized system across the region, but west Texas will indeed be squeezed between features, which will render the region cloudier than normal, but not quite rainy. We’ll make it as far as Tornillo, which isn’t quite to El Paso. Texas is very big.

DAY FOUR (Wednesday)
The next round of wet weather for the desert Southwest, and there certainly aren’t many, usually, will be running into the area on Wednesday morning. There won’t be much rain east of Las Cruces, but there will be a few showers with some elevation wet snow for the entirety of our drive on Wednesday. When you go to Tucson, you probably don’t expect rain, but alas, that’s what we are going to find on this occasion.

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Let’s see what’s going on down in Arizona tonight. Anything? Anything at all?

At 853PM, PT, Tucson was reporting a temperature of 68 degrees with clear skies. The western US is much more active than usual, with a broad, strong trough angled into the west coast. The exit arm of the trough extends just to the southeast of Tucson, and some mid to high clouds shouldn’t be ruled out tomorrow.
Low pressure will consolidate on the Colorado/New Mexico border through the day tomorrow, with precipitation becoming more widespread in southern New Mexico and the terrain east of Tucson. This feature will shift into the Plains, but the southwest will broadly be within a trough. Low pressure will develop over the Pacific west of the Baja, and the skies over Tucson will be a little bit more congested than usual to start the week.
Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy, High 69, Low 52
Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 74, Low 50

TWC: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy skies with a few showers after midnight. High 67, Low 55
Monday – Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 75, Low 48

AW: Tomorrow – A shower or thunderstorm in the area in the morning; otherwise, rather cloudy and cooler High 68, Low 55
Monday – Partly sunny and warmer High 76, Low 47

NWS: Tomorrow – Scattered showers, mainly before 11am. Partly sunny, High 71, Low 54
Monday – Sunny, High 77, Low 45

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with scattered showers in the morning then partly cloudy with isolated showers in the afternoon, High 66, Low 59
Monday – Mostly sunny, High 73, Low 49

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with scattered showers, High 71, Low 54
Monday – Mostly sunny, High 77, Low 45

FIO: Tomorrow – Possible drizzle in the morning. High 71, Low 46
Monday – Overcast throughout the day. High 74, Low 60

I sure could end up with egg on my face if (and probably when, knowing my luck) it rains in Tucson on Sunday. Check out the satellite, with heavier clouds just to the southeast of town.

Syracuse, New York to Tucson, Arizona

Today we embark on a 5-day, cross-country road trip that’ll cover 2,337 miles. That’s a lot of snacks we need to stock up on! Let’s get a move-on, not a moment to waste!

DAY ONE

An area of low pressure is shifting through far southern Quebec/New England, with a cold front trailing through NY/PA back to the OH Valley. There might be an isolated rain shower lingering in the Syracuse area at dawn, but most of this activity should be off to the northeast of the city as we depart on our westward journey. The day should be dry but cloudy to start, then clouds clear out as we pass Buffalo and follow the shores of Lake Erie to Cleveland. From there we turn southward and end our rather uneventful start to the trip in Columbus.

DAY TWO

An area of low pressure looks to shift into the OH Valley to start the day, bringing some rain shower activity to the Columbus area as we head westward. Conditions improve a bit as we make it to Indianapolis, but a second round of showers is possible as we move through IL towards St. Louis as the tail end of a cold front works in from the north. Heavier stuff should remain off to the south as another area of low pressure lifts northeastward from the Lower MS River Valley, but keep an eye out on some shower activity as we pass St. Louis and finish the day in Rolla, MO.

DAY THREE

A fairly quiet day is expected today as our leg is between systems. Some clouds may increase during the afternoon hours as we head out of southwestern MO past Joplin. Southwerly winds are expected to increase as low pressure begins to intensify in the foothills of CO/WY, but conditions will remain dry as we finish our relatively short day in Oklahoma City.

DAY FOUR

Low pressure speeds off to the north of our route today as it moves through NE to IL, while the tail end of a cold front sags into OK. Cloudy skies and perhaps a shower or two will greet our morning as we start heading towards Oklahoma City, but nothing particularly heavy is expected. Cloudy skies continue as we pass Amarillo but late afternoon/evening storms look to stay north of I-40 as we press onwards into New Mexico. Our day ends in Vaughn, NM.

DAY FIVE

A dry day is in store as we finish our lengthy trip. While low pressure gets situated over the Four Corners region, precip should stay well off to the north over central UT/CO. Gusty winds, particularly in mountain passes, could make for some interesting sections as we head west out of Las Cruces along I-10, but shouldn’t be too bad as we finally make it to Tucson!