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Wind, cold air, rain and mountain snow on its way

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A strong cold front is approaching Arizona, bringing with it cold air, gusty winds and showers.

Winds will start to pick up. Maricopa County is under a wind advisory from 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Winds could gust in some spots up to 40 mph. The strong crosswinds and locally reduced visibilities due to blowing dust could cause hazardous travel conditions.

Cold air will filter across the state. Highs in the Valley Wednesday will only reach into the mid 50s, about 15 degrees below average for this time of year.

Snow should start to fall across Northern Arizona late Tuesday night. A winter storm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for Flagstaff beginning at midnight and lasting through Wednesday until 8 p.m.

Snow accumulations will be impressive. In the highest elevations, about 6,000 feet, up to 10 inches of snow is expected. In Flagstaff, several inches of snow will fall start early Wednesday morning.

Parts of the Mogollon Rim could see 15 to 20 inches of snow. Most of the snow will fall in the morning hours.

Snow will also fall in Southeast Arizona. Snow level will be dropping to around 2,500 feet. About 1 to 2 inches are expected and up to 17 inches could fall in the highest elevations.

Rain showers will start to develop early Wednesday morning. Showers will be heaviest during the morning commute, beginning around 7 a.m. The Valley could get up to 3/4" of rain before the cold front moves east.

There could be a few wet snowflakes over the high terrain of the north Valley and convective showers early in the afternoon Wednesday could result in graupel, or soft hail, due to the low freezing level.

Showers will start to taper off Wednesday afternoon.

Bundle up! Highs in the Valley Wednesday and Thursday will only be in the mid 50s.

Skies will clear a bit Thursday but a couple of weak disturbances could bring a few showers for the end of the work week.

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