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Powerful Southwest Storm Rakes The Front Range

UPDATED 2 PM MST, December 14, 2012

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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A quiet weather week across the Desert Southwest and southern Rocky Front Range has turned wintry for the high-terrain, while downpours also alleviate a budding drought to end the workweek on a fresh note. Even a few potent thunderstorms will emerge across the central and southern Plains today.

In fact some of the storms could be strong enough that they could contain damaging winds and large hail. Because of this, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect for parts of the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma, including Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas, and Gage and Altus, Okla.

A band of heavy downpours and a few thunderstorms are pelting the Southwest this morning. In fact, this rainfall has been sorely-needed in places like Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., where the last measurable rainfall for the former occurred in early November. Despite the storms short visit, one inch of rain will go a long way in denting the budding Southwest drought.

It will also help replenish reservoirs reeling from a long-term moderate-to-severe drought. However, too much all at once could make urban centers like Phoenix susceptible to urban and small-stream flooding.

The storm, being carved out by a dip in the jet stream across southern California and the Southwest, also has a bit of a wintry side. Snow is still flying across the highest terrain of northern Arizona this morning, while also spreading into Colorado and New Mexico

today.

Bursts of snow will fall heavily at times through early Saturday, and combined with strengthening winds gusting as high as 50 mph, travel will be extremely difficult. The snow being blown about will create near white-out and potentially, blizzard-like conditions along parts of the high-terrain along I-40 and I-25 in southwestern Colorado, northern and eastern Arizona and much of western and northern New Mexico.

Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in place today and Saturday for the mountains of Arizona, New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. By the time the storm winds down, snowfall tallies will be impressive, to the tune of 1 to 2 feet above 8,500 feet in Arizona and above 9,500 feet in Colorado and New Mexico. Several inches will fall as low as 5,000 feet.

Beyond the rain and snow aspect of the storm, the strengthening system will produce a period of strong to potentially damaging winds from southern New Mexico to West Texas today. Wind Advisories, High Wind Warnings and High Wind Watches are in place, where gusts topping 60 to 70 mph will cause any loose objects to become airborne projectiles. The gusts will also be capable of downing tree branches and interrupting power.

The storm will quickly exit the central Plains for the western Great Lakes on Saturday, bringing a bit of every season to the Nation`s Midsection this weekend.

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