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Snowfall, cacti, and pouring rain in the desert

On average, Arizona sees just shy of an inch of rainfall each month.

Today alone, it might have gotten that much ... and then some.

Overcast skies, heavy downpours, and somewhat foggy conditions greeted the AFC Champion New England Patriots when the team and its convoy touched down at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport late Sunday evening.

Approximately three dozen TV camera crews and still photographers were huddled under a large tent on the tarmac to document the Patriots arrival for Super Bowl XLII, next Sunday in nearby Glendale, AZ.

Off to the left, across the nearest street at the end of the runway, the faint sound of cheering could be heard from a small but vocal group of Pats fans who had already arrived to welcome their favorite team to their home-away-from-home for the next eight days.

Once all the players, staff, and their luggage were transferred from their plane to their five awaiting buses, local police in cars and on motorcycles escorted the team through the driving rain to their hotel in Scottsdale – about a 30-minute ride from the airport.

Along the way, mountainous terrain and Arizona's trademark cacti were visible right off the highway. But it was nearly impossible to make out the skyline of downtown Phoenix further away, as it was shrouded in thick fog.

Darkness had fallen by the time the Patriots arrived at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. There was no time to unpack or get any shut-eye, however. Head coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady, and several other players were immediately ushered to their respective podiums to conduct the first of many press conferences this Super Bowl week.

Some ten hours earlier, the Super Bowl-bound Pats departed Gillette Stadium amid a steady New England snowfall. Several thousand dedicated fans braved the elements at an enthusiastic rally to see the team off for Boston's Logan Airport.

The skies were actually clear for the majority of New England's five-and-a-half hour flight to Phoenix, but the conditions in the desert southwest weren't all that different from the ones they left back home (as Brady joked in his opening remarks to the media).

Monday afternoon, the Patriots are scheduled to hold more press conferences, and the Phoenix-area forecast calls for more cloudy skies and rain.

It's unusual weather for this part of the country. Then again, that may be appropriate, as the Patriots look to accomplish one of the most unusual feats in NFL history: an undefeated season.

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