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12/11/2012 1:33:00 PM
Winter weather around the corner for northern Arizona

David Yankus

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Winter isn't here yet. In fact, winter officially begins Dec. 21. However, midway through December, many people are noticing how warm the temperature is outside.

In November, daytime high temperatures in Coconino County averaged six degrees above normal. According to Darren McCollum, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, normal deviation tends to be one degree above or below the average temperature.

"It's definitely been warmer than normal for quite a stretch here, pretty much all of November, give or take a few days," said McCollum. "Certainly the start of this month too, a lot of that's been on the daytime high."

This fairly significant deviation from long-term normal temperatures is not going to last though. Temperatures began dropping as recently as Sunday.

A normal high daytime temperature for this time of year is around 44 degrees.

"This week we expect to see a cool pattern, but there will be little disturbances in that pattern," McCollum said. "So as this week progresses it may become a little unsettled, which will bring upon a little better chance of seeing some snow at the end of this week or next week."

McCollum added that the weather pattern is simply being very stubborn, and that high pressure continues to stay above Arizona. He said that over time this high pressure will eventually push out further over the Pacific Ocean and allow more of the storm track to gradually move into the area.

But this could be another week or two away.

"We really don't have a reason as to why the cold has been delayed, other than we haven't had any storms or buckles in the jet stream that would let air masses from the north, the polar region, come down into the southern part of the state. It's all remained up in Canada, in Alaska, and in the North Pole," said McCollum. "And that's been true for much of the country, it just really has been hesitant to drop down, and that's why we've been mild."

According to McCollum, a lot of air masses in and around the northern Arizona region have come straight off the Pacific and are very mild, as opposed to the air masses he previously mentioned from the polar region, which would be drastically cooler.

"It does look like we're trying to trend towards a more winter feel though," McCollum said. "Coming up here in the next week or two we're definitely going to get more flow from the north, and the second that happens we definitely start cooling down."

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