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Wednesday January 17, 2001

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Snow falls in Tucson, more cold weather to come

By Shana Heiser

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Recent temperatures far cry from last January's 80-degree

Dressed in a short-sleeve shirt and flip-flop sandals, business sophomore Jeff Velasco stood outside yesterday chatting with friends, seemingly oblivious to the snow flurries and 45-degree temperatures that had characterized the day.

However, Velasco, a California native, thought it would always be hot at the University of Arizona and was not prepared for the January chill.

"I'm really cold - I didn't know it was this cold," he said. "If I dress warmer, it's not as bad."

Tucson's high temperature yesterday was not expected to crack 50 degrees, making for an unseasonably cool day, said Chris Rasmussen, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Although temperatures will begin getting warmer today, giving the Tucson area "a few days of reprieve," another weather system will bring cold air to the valley early next week, Rasmussen said.

The low temperature may still dip below freezing today, but the precipitation will not be as widespread as yesterday, Rasmussen said. As of 2 p.m., less than a quarter of an inch of rain had been measured.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see some patchy frost," he added.

Although snow showers were reported all over the Tucson area yesterday morning, there was not even a trace of accumulation, Rasmussen said.

Almost 10 years have passed since snow was measured at the Tucson International Airport, Rasmussen said. On March 16, 1991, less than one-third of an inch of snow was recorded.

"When I came in this morning at 7 a.m., it was snowing," Rasmussen said. "It was quite brief."

The abnormal conditions were caused by an upper-level disturbance that began in the Pacific Northwest, Rasmussen said. The system came over land, though, so precipitation amounts stayed at a fraction of an inch yesterday. When a storm system comes in over a body of water, precipitation levels are typically higher.

As shorts-clad UA students think of balmier temperatures - like the record 84 degrees recorded last Jan. 16 - the cold air will remain for awhile, Rasmussen said.

"We're well below our average high temperature," he said. "The high is 47 (degrees) for today, and normals for the day are 64 for a high and 39 for a low."

Jeff Bloom, a political science sophomore, was dressed in shorts and a fleece jacket yesterday. The southern Florida native also said he did not realize the air would be so chilly outside.

"I was too lazy to put on pants," Bloom said. "I'm not a fan of cold weather. I'm trying to pretend that it's warm out."

Had Bloom known the temperatures would be hovering in the 40s, he said that he would have put on pants before braving the elements.

Shana Heiser can be reached at