The Washington Post

Rare snow in the desert: Arizona storm suspends PGA golf event

A tournament scoreboard is covered in snow after play was suspended during the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona February 20, 2013. (MATT SULLIVAN/REUTERS)

A wound-up weather disturbance is producing unheard of amounts of snow in the southern Arizona desert.

The snow halted play at the PGA Tour’s Match Play Championship in Marana, Arizona, just north of Tucson.

A big dip in the jet stream and strong upper level disturbance are driving cold air into southern Arizona and generating snow (

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus, a weather blogger for the Wall Street Journal who lives in the Tucson area, said getting accumulating snow in the city is “nearly unprecedented.”

“My fiancee’s coworker has lived in Tucson all her life - she’s about 50- and said this is the most snow she’s ever seen,” Holthaus said.

This weather is officially ridiculous!…

— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) February 20, 2013

Karen Edquist, Holthaus’ fiancee and school counselor at Empire High School in Vail, Az, said many of her students are seeing snow for the first time and are ecstatic. Here’s a first-hand report from Edquist:

The students are LOVING this snowstorm!!! I just told a student to make a snow angel and he was like, “ok!!” and he laid down face down and started waving his arms around and I was like, “you’re UPSIDE DOWN!!!” hahaha - these poor desert kids - haha

These are the biggest snows on record in Tucson, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) NowData:

1. 6.8” 12/8/1971

2. 6.4” 11/16/1958

3. 6.0” 3/12/1922

4. 4.3” 1/16/1987

5. 4.0” 3/2/1964, 1/7/1937, 12/25/1916, 2/13/1908

9. 3.8” 3/3/1976

10. 3.5” 1/25/1949

Link: Most recent snows in Tucson (NWS Facebook page)

In the mountains surrounding Tucson, blizzard warnings are in effect for upwards of 7 inches of snow and white-out conditions, also highly unusual.

The weather system is expected to head into the Plains tomorrow, producing beneficial snow and rain in the drought-stricken area, before feeding into a possible East Coast storm this weekend.

Here are some more photos from the golf tournament...

(Jed Jacobsohn/GETTY IMAGES)

(Jed Jacobsohn/GETTY IMAGES)


Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.


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