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Bundle up: Weather Service steps up warnings of widespread freeze in Southern Az

Forecast swings from sweltering heat to possible record freezes

Just 10 days after thermometers in Tucson hit 101 degrees, freeze warnings will extend across Southern Arizona, with lows as cold as 20 degrees possible — and seasonal records for temperatures shattered in some locations.

Freezing temperatures are likely overnight on Monday and Tuesday, with the coldest temperatures possible heading into Wednesday morning, National Weather Service officials cautioned, stepping up their advisory from a "watch" to a "warning" — including a hard freeze warning for much of the area.

The colder temperatures now forecast will mean somewhat drier air, with snow now less likely to drop down toward desert valleys on Monday and Tuesday nights. Some snow is expected in mountain areas.

In addition to forecasting even lower temperatures than in the weather watch issued on Sunday, the warnings released Monday cover a wider area, with the Tohono O'odham Nation and parts of western Pima and south-central Pinal counties now expected to also see freezes.

Monday night will see some rain and snow throughout eastern Pima County, as well as Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee counties, NWS said. Snow will initially hit higher elevations. Tuesday will be "much colder," and some showers and snow will continue through Tuesday night, forecasters said.

Wednesday, a hard freeze is likely in some valleys east of Tucson, with lows in the 30s also hitting the metro area.

Monday night, sub-freezing temperatures as low as 28 are possible; Tuesday, lows could drop to 22 degrees in some areas. In Tucson, lows are forecast to remain just around freezing (31 degrees Monday night; 32 on Tuesday overnight), but some parts of the metro area may see colder temperatures. While NWS's forecasts are pegged to the weather at Tucson International Airport, "it tends to not be the coldest location in the metro area. Outlying areas are more likely to see the potential for sub-freezing temperatures," officials said.

The warnings cover Nogales, Green Valley, Sierra Vista, Benson, Safford and Willcox, and other parts of Southeastern Arizona. Tucson, Marana and Oro Valley are included, as well as the Tohono O'odham Nation and other desert stretches west and northwest of the metro area. On the reservation, the coldest temperatures are likely south of Sells, forecasters said.

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NWS officials had said that the second freeze watch was issued for Tuesday night for areas east of Tucson because of the potential for much lower temperatures and a hard freeze, even though "normally in these typically colder areas once a freeze has occurred freeze watches and warnings are no longer issued" during a winter.

In parts of Cochise County, thermometers could drop to 22 degrees on Monday night, and down to 20 on Tuesday night. "A few of the normally coldest locations could drop into the teens Wednesday morning," NWS said.

"For reference, a low temperature less than 23 at Willcox would be the coldest October low temperature in 50 years. The current Willcox forecast for Wednesday is 21 degrees," forecasters said.

West of Tucson, the cold will be most severe Monday night. East of the metro area, Tuesday into Wednesday will be colder.

Just 10 days ago, on October 16, Tucson's recorded high temperature was 101 degrees, as an unseasonable hot spell continued. Forecasters said that temperatures should return to normal by the end of the week, with highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 40s for Tucson. By Sunday, Tucson may again see a 90-degree high.

Wrap your pipes, cover your plants, bring your pets inside and be kind to people who are outdoors at night. The coldest temperatures are expected around daybreak on Wednesday.

Frost and freezing conditions can kill crops, damage other sensitive plants and potentially damage outdoor plumbing that isn't protected.

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