With a population of 7,151,502 as of 2020, Arizona is the 14th most populous state in the US. It spans 295,234 square kilometers, which sees it ranked as the 6th largest state in the country. The highest point in Arizona is Humphrey’s Peak at 12,637 feet (3,852 m) above sea level, while the lowest point is the Colorado River at an elevation of 72 feet (22 m). Given the state’s high elevation, one can’t help but wonder, does it snow in Arizona?
Most parts of Arizona experience an arid and semi-arid climate that features very hot summers and moderately warm winters. However, the northern and southeastern regions of the state enjoy milder temperatures due to their high elevations. These regions tend to receive snow during most winters.
When does it snow in Arizona?
Snow in Arizona falls in winter, which lasts from early December to late March. Some places, however, receive the first dustings of snow as early as October, and the snow can stay in other places up to June. On average, Arizona records upwards of 75 inches (1905 millimeters) of snowfall on a typical winter.
Here is a breakdown of the snowiest months in Arizona.
Snowfall in December
December is the first month of winter in Arizona. Though temperatures remain high in Phoenix in central Arizona, high altitude areas record chilly temperatures. For instance, in Flagstaff, temperatures range between lows of 15.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 degrees Celsius) and highs of 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius). On the other hand, Show Low records low temperatures ranging between 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius) and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). Snow falls in Flagstaff for 7.4 days and accumulates up to a depth of 7.3 inches (187 millimeters). In Show Low, snow blasts the city for five days and aggregates up to 4.02 inches (102 millimeters).
Snowfall in January
January is the coldest month in Arizona. Places such as Phoenix still experience moderately warm temperatures in the range of 43.4 degrees Fahrenheit (6.3 degrees Celsius) and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius). Flagstaff records chilly temperatures up in the mountains that can fall as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.7 degrees Celsius). January sees heavy snowfall pounding Flagstaff for 6.1 days. During the month, the snow can aggregate up to depths of 4.65 inches (118 millimeters).
Snowfall In February
February is the last month of winter in most parts of Arizona. As these parts prepare to transition into spring, there is a general rise in temperatures compared to January. Places such as Show Low experience temperatures in the range of 24.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius) and 50 degrees Fahrenheit ( 10 degrees Celsius). In high altitude areas such as Flagstaff, however, temperatures remain mild and can even reach lows of 19.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius).
In February, Show Low experiences snow for 3.5 snowfall days and accumulates up to 3.07 inches (78 millimeters) of snow, while Flagstaff sees 6.2 snowfall days and an accumulation of 5.94 inches (151 millimeters).
Where does it snow in Arizona?
Snow in Phoenix
Phoenix is the capital and most populous city in Arizona. It sits at an elevation of 1,117 feet (357 meters)above sea level and is home to 1.7 million people. It seldom snows in Phoenix, thanks to the city’s hot climate and low elevation. However, there have been instances where snowfall has graced Phoenix. The rare occasion of snowfall in Phoenix happens once every 25 years, and when it happens, it will definitely be in January.
Snow in Flagstaff
Flagstaff is one of the snowiest cities in the United States as it posts over 100 inches (2,540 millimeters) of snowfall every year. This unique city, sandwiched between the San Francisco mountains and the Sonoran desert, covers an area of 171.1 kilometers square and has a population of 75,000. Flagstaff records its first instance of snow in late November, and the snow stays on the ground until mid-March. Snow on the nearby San Francisco mountains, however, tends to stick around longer and thaw in June. Flagstaff receives snow for an average of 33.7 snowfall days and aggregates up to 103.6 inches (2,631 millimeters) of snow throughout the year.
Snow in Show Low
Show Low witnesses its first snowfall in December and the last traces in late February or early March. January is the coldest and snowiest month in Show Low, with temperatures reaching lows of 27.5 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.5 degrees Celsius). On average, Show Low receives snowfall for 18.8 snowfall days throughout the year and records an accumulation of 14.76 inches (377 millimeters) of snow.
Ski Resorts in Arizona
Arizona is a state endowed with beautiful skiing scenery and plenty of snow. The state has four ski resorts with 49 kilometers of skiable slope and 18 ski lifts between them.
Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort
Arizona Snowbowl is the largest ski resort in Arizona. It is located between elevations of 2,804 and 3,505 meters and is home to an average of 260 inches (6,604 millimeters) of snow. Arizona Snowbowl ski resort has 37 kilometers of slope available for skiing and snowboarding. Of the 37, 12 km are reserved for easy difficulty level, 14 to intermediate difficulty level, and 11 for expert difficulty level. The resort is served by six ski lifts and is open from mid-November to the end of April.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski resort in the continental USA. It is located on the slopes of Mount Lemmon in Tucson at elevations between 2,522 and 2,750 meters. The ski resort caters to all skiing difficulty levels and has 8.5 km of slope available for skiing and snowboarding. Mt. Lennon Ski Valley has three ski lifts for transporting guests and is open from mid-December to April.
Sunrise Park Resort
This resort is located near Greer and spans three mountains. It has a 3.2 kilometer square skiable area and caters to all skiing difficulty levels. Sunrise Park Resort is equipped with seven ski lifts for transporting guests. The resort is open throughout the year as it has snowmaking equipment to supplement natural snowfall.
Ski Resort Elk Ridge-Williams
This ski resort is situated between 2,306 and 2,452 meters, 30 miles west of Flagstaff in Williams. The resort has 3 km of slope available for skiing and snowboarding and is equipped with two ski lifts for transporting guests.