Consider delaying travel during snow storms; slow down on slick highways
This weekend may start out with pleasant weather, but drivers should be prepared for slick and potentially hazardous conditions on the state’s highways once a winter storm system starts to bring rain and snow to Arizona in the coming days.
The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to avoid traveling during any severe winter storm conditions. Motorists should stay up to date on forecasts from the National Weather Service and plan their travel accordingly. That includes delaying travel when highways are snow packed or icy.
Weather forecasts call for snow and rain to start falling across the state by Saturday night and continue into next week. Drivers in lower elevations should plan for possible rain and wet roadways at times into early next week. People heading to the high country should be aware that plans for returning home could be impacted by winter weather.
ADOT and law enforcement agencies remind travelers not to stop next to highways, including I-17, I-40, US 180, SR 260 or others, to play in the snow. Doing so is unsafe. People should instead go to established snow play areas. Parking along highway shoulders for snow play is not allowed, since that can block areas that emergency response vehicles may need to use.
Safer conditions will exist in upper elevation areas once ADOT snowplow crews have a chance to clear snow and ice from highways impacted by any winter storms. Here are some winter and wet weather safety recommendations:
- Slow down and leave extra room: Adjust your speed to conditions. Slowing down and leaving space between your vehicle and vehicles ahead of you on icy or wet roads can prevent crashes or keep your vehicle from skidding when conditions are slippery.
- Tire Chains: Drivers also should anticipate that, depending on the severity of winter storm conditions, chains and/or four-wheel drive vehicle capability are likely to be recommended on some highways impacted by snow or ice.
- Leave prepared: Dress for cold weather if traveling into the high country. Bring extra clothes and gloves as part of an emergency prep kit in case you need to stop along a highway. Be sure your cellphone is charged and pack extra drinking water, food and prescription medications (in case you encounter delays).
- Other items for an emergency kit: Blankets, flashlight, ice scraper, small shovel, container with sand or kitty litter for tire traction if your vehicle is stuck in icy conditions. ADOT has a complete list of items at azdot.gov/KnowSnow (look for “Must haves for every vehicle”).
In addition to following National Weather Service forecasts (weather.gov/fgz/WinterWeather), drivers can visit ADOT’s Traveler Information site at az511.gov or call 511 for highway conditions. Pay attention to messages on ADOT’s network of electronic signs. ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) also provide information and answers about highway conditions.