A cool day brings in gusts to the Phoenix area, rain and snow in northern Arizona

Palm trees, the American flag, the Arizona State flag and an ASU flag move with the wind during a windy day in downtown Phoenix on Feb. 22, 2023.

A winter storm was expected to bring strong winds, snow and difficult driving conditions to the high country on Thursday.

Warm and windy conditions in the high country will yield to rain and snow in the later evening hours accompanied by 40-65 mph winds that are expected to last through Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service Flagstaff.

Sustained southwest winds between 25 and 40 mph will be present throughout the region, with strong gusts between 40 and 55 mph likely. The White Mountains are expected to see the highest winds on Thursday with peak gusts upwards of 60 mph.

Rain and snow moved over the high country from the west to the east Wednesday evening. Areas at 6,000 feet and above can expect between 1 to 4 inches of snowfall as a result of the storm.

Areas with high wind warnings in effect:

  • The White Mountains: High wind warning from 2 a.m. MST Thursday through 5 p.m. MST Thursday

  • Eastern Little Colorado River Valley: High wind warning from 2 a.m. MST Thursday through 5 p.m. MST Thursday

  • Yavapai County: 11 a.m. MST Wednesday through 5 p.m. MST Thursday.

  • Mogollon Rim: 11 a.m. MST Wednesday through 5 p.m. MST Thursday.

  • Black Mesa: 11 a.m. MST Wednesday through 5 p.m. MST Thursday.

  • Chuska Mountains: 11 a.m. MST Wednesday through 5 p.m. MST Thursday.

"Now is the time to secure loose items and prepare for possible power outages," the weather service said in a Wednesday afternoon tweet. The weather service reminded residents to secure outdoor structures, avoid using temporary structures like tents and to prepare for possible power outages ahead of the storm.

The rain and snow in combination with gusty winds will create hazardous driving conditions, the weather service said.

The storm and strong winds will subside by Friday, when warming temperatures and dry conditions are expected to return to the high country. The warm weather will continue throughout the weekend.

"Friday through Tuesday, a warming trend returns by the end of the week and will work hard to pull us out of the well- below seasonal temperatures," the weather service said in a forecast discussion.

This March has only seen one day with above normal high temperatures in Flagstaff, making it the coldest March in northern Arizona since 1991.

Friday in Flagstaff will be mostly sunny, with a high of 46 degrees and a low of 26 degrees. Saturday will be partly cloudy with a high of 54 degrees, followed by sunny skies and a high of 55 degrees on Sunday.

Warm weather and winds in store for metro Phoenix

South-central Arizona and the Valley can expect wind gusts between 20-30 mph and a few light showers that started late Wednesday night and will last through Thursday as a low-pressure storm travels over the region.

A wind advisory has been implemented for Imperial and Riverside counties where winds have the risk of exceeding 40 mph on Thursday. Patchy blowing dust and sand was expected to impact travel in those regions lasting through Thursday.

Difficult driving conditions and low visibility were expected along interstate 8 and Interstate 10 for high-profile vehicles, according to the weather service. The weather service warned of moderately dangerous driving conditions and the potential for loose and unsecured objects to become airborne as a result of Thursday's gusty winds.

Temperatures will drop across south-central Arizona on Thursday as the storm brings cooler air over the region. Highs on Thursday will be in the 60s, though winds between 20-30 mph will make temperatures feel even colder.

"Don't put the sweatshirt away just yet," said the weather service in a forecast discussion.

Rainfall totals across south-central Arizona will be light, and not all areas will see rain. There is a very small chance for lightning on Thursday.

Metro Phoenix and areas northeast of the Valley are expected to receive the highest measures of rainfall on Thursday, with expected totals for the region at 0.1'' inches.

The storm will quickly exit the region on Friday, leaving behind sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s.

Saturday and Sunday will see temperatures warm into the low to mid-80s, accompanied by suns skies and a few high clouds. Monday is expected to bring more gusty winds across the south-central desert region.

Monday and Tuesday will bring the return of slightly cooler temperatures, with highs in the low 70s and lows in the high 40s.

Flood warnings are here to stay

Flood warnings will remain in effect for the near future as significant streamflow continues along the Salt, Gila and Verde rivers.

Flood warnings for areas along the Salt and Gila rivers have been extended until April 7 while the warning along the Verde River will last through this Friday, according to the weather service.

For areas below the Granite Reef Dam, the flood warnings mean the closures of unbridged river crossings and potential flooding of low-lying roads.

Unusually strong currents will be present in Tempe Town Lake and normally dry riverbeds will see water as a result of the elevated flows.

Strong currents, deep water and cold-water temperatures will create hazardous conditions for kayakers and other recreational water activities in areas above the Granite Reef Dam.

Current flood warnings:

  • Salt River below Saguaro Lake: Now through April 7.

  • Gila River from Avondale to Yuma County Line: Now through April 7.

  • Verde River below Bartlett Lake: Now through this Friday.

Strong winds ahead for the desert southwest

A strong storm will bring gusty southwest winds to Tucson and areas east of the city on Thursday, with light showers expected for areas west of Tucson.

A wind advisory has been issued for areas east of Tucson lasting through Thursday. Much of the area will see winds of 25-35 mph with gusts upwards of 40 mph, according to the weather service.

The strongest winds were expected to be concentrated in regions east of Tucson where the wind advisory was in effect.

"West of Tucson the wind field will be much lighter with a slight chance of light showers over central and western Pima county," said the weather service in a forecast discussion.

A dramatic drop in temperature is expected for Tucson on Thursday directly following the warmest high of the year so far on Wednesday, at 83 degrees. Thursday will see highs in the low 60s and lows in the low 40s.

Friday will be another cooler than normal day with temperatures in the low 70s before warmer temps return for the weekend and into early next week.

Saturday and Sunday will bring sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 80s, bringing the Southwest back to its seasonal averages.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Gusts forecast in metro Phoenix; rain and snow in northern Arizona