The day Tucson turned into a 'Winter Wonderland' - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

The day Tucson turned into a 'Winter Wonderland'

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TUCSON - 46 years ago this morning, Tucson woke up to its largest snowfall on record.

A whopping 6.8" snow fell after midnight at Tucson International Airport on Dec. 8, 1971. Major issues ensued. According to National Weather Service Tucson, the heavy snow snarled traffic, downed power lines and damaged or destroyed 3,000 trees, some of them 20 years old.

Slush on the runway forced the closure of the Tucson International Airport and cancellation of flights between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. At the time, the airport did not own a snow plow.

What caused this rare desert snowstorm? The morning of Dec. 8, 1971 showed a very cold mid-level low pressure center in northwestern Arizona. This remarkable air mass can easily support low elevation snow.

Only question is whether the ongoing precipitation can sync up with the cold air for a long period of time. A winter pattern like this usually sees a brief switch-over to snow. This event was one of the few that became a prolonged snow event


Above are some photos from viewer Troy Van Zandt at the intersection of Beverly and San Francisco. If you lived in Tucson and have pictures from that day, drop us a line at weather@kvoa.com.

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