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Arizona ushers in 2019 with bitter Phoenix-area cold, southern snow


PHOENIX — Arizona ushered in 2019 with colder than usual temperatures Wednesday morning and southern parts of the state also saw heavy amounts of snow.

The state Department of Transportation reported whiteout conditions on State Route 90 near Sierra Vista and had sent plows to Interstate 10 in the Benson area.

The National Weather Service said about two inches had fallen in Nogales by 5 a.m. and were urging drivers to take caution.

Snowfall was beginning to decrease in Nogales in Santa Cruz County by midmorning but was expected to intensify in Douglas in Cochise County as the morning went on.

Other southern Arizona cities, including Sierra Vista, were also blanketed by snow.

Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson said it was the first time it had snowed in nearly six years.

National Weather Service in Tucson said parts of southeastern Arizona received as much as seven inches of snow by noon.

Trooper Kameron Lee told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News that the department was busy throughout the state attempting to clear snow and keep drivers safe.

“We want to keep people off the side of the highway and on the way to their destination,” he added.

Forecasters issued a winter storm warning for the region until 5 p.m.

The Phoenix area was not exempt from the chilling temperatures: National Weather Service said the low temperature at Sky Harbor Airport was 30 degrees, the coldest since Jan. 15, 2013, when the airport recorded 29 degrees.

Bianca Hernandez with the National Weather Service in Phoenix said those temperatures are much colder than usual.

“Usually the normal is in the 40s for the lows and 60s for the highs, so we’ve been well below normal for this time of year,” Hernandez told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

A freeze warning was also expected to last until 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Phoenix area.

Hernandez said relief could soon be on the way for the Valley: She said it is expected to start warming up by the end of the week, with highs in the 60s on Friday.

But while it will warm up, Hernandez added that Valley residents might also see some more wet weather over the weekend.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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