Why Snow’s a Big(ger) Deal in SE Arizona
If you’ve just landed here from ‘up north’ or ‘back east’, you may be experiencing your first Arizona winter.
Somehow the phrase ‘Arizona Winter’ doesn’t have quite the teeth that ‘Minnesota Winter’ or ‘Montana Snowstorm’ does. We don’t often experience sub-zero temperatures or blinding blizzard conditions here. We don’t rush to wrap our pipes or upgrade our homes to triple paned windows. However, we get some snowfall.
Winter in the ‘Zone
Winter is much milder here, but that said, we still experience the season. And yes, we get snow. In fact, as I write this, we’re having a snow day. In the middle of the Morning Show today, Grady Butler popped his head into the K101 studio to tell me it was snowing. In the windowless bunker that is the K101 studio, I have little idea what’s happening outside unless I walk out and look. The sun could fail to rise, or pterodactyls could start dropping out of the sky, but I’d never know unless someone told me. Or the studio door was breached by pterodactyls.
Which is what happened this morning. The snow. Not the pterodactyls.
Big, fluffy flakes of white, shivery snow were blanketing the sky, the air, the ground. Falling snow - or something cold and snow-like - isn’t nearly as rare here as is snowfall actually sticking to the ground for longer than a minute or two. This morning, conditions were just right.
It’s Barely Snowing – Why Does Everything Close Down?
I grew up in the Midwest. When I was a kid, our family moved around a lot, mostly circumnavigating the Great Lakes. Concepts like snow, cold, sub-zero, lake-effect snow, blizzard, and polar vortex are more than just words – they are the chilling reality of winter life. Cold and snow is so ubiquitous, that NOT having snow in the winter is the anomaly.
In the Midwest, we are prepared for snow. School calendars have built-in snow days; weather reports include advice on using caution around snowplows and other road clearing equipment. Cities purchase salt by the ton and scatter it across roadways to keep icy conditions at bay.
Out here in the warm, sunny West, we don’t have any of that, unless you live up in Flagstaff where they experienced record-setting snow this year – but that’s a different article.
With the recent influx of Midwesterners looking to escape after the pandemic shutdown, there are a lot of folks here who might be wondering if we’re all just weak, unskilled drivers. I mean, closing the city down and cancelling school as the first flakes barely make landfall, who ever heard of such a thing?
Yes, most of us can drive in the snow. Most of us know to be careful and slow down when conditions get cold and icy. We close the city down as a precaution because we simply don’t have the snow and ice clearing equipment to ensure everyone stays safe on the roadways. While we don’t have snow and ice removal equipment, I've been told it’s not worth investing in here because it's used so rarely.
We know if we wait for the afternoon sun to warm us up, we’ll say goodbye to the snow. In the meantime, we take hundreds of photos of the snow and post them to the socials. We take advantage of the rare snowfall and late starts for work and school to show our kids what it’s like to make a snowman – even if it’s only a foot tall and melted by 2pm.