Heading to the high country? Be ready for winter weather

February 15, 2019 - 11:33 am

With a long weekend at hand and snow in the forecast, those heading to Arizona’s high country should leave prepared for extended time in winter weather and for the possibility of delays around popular snow-play areas such as US 180 northwest of Flagstaff.

Be sure to review the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Know Snow tips at azdot.gov/KnowSnow, which include dressing for frigid temperatures, packing an emergency kit that includes blankets, snacks and extra water, and putting off travel when snow is falling so ADOT’s plows can clear highways. Review the weather forecast and get the latest highway conditions by visiting ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov or calling 511.

Make sure your gas tank is at least half to three-quarters full at all times, and ensure that your wipers, window defroster, headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals work. Having a fully charged cellphone is a must.

If your goals include searching for a place to play in the snow, please don't park along highways to do so. Highway shoulders are for emergencies, and parking there to throw snowballs, sled, etc., can endanger you, your passengers and other drivers while potentially interfering with emergency vehicles and snowplows.

Locations of designated snow-play areas around Flagstaff are available at flagstaffarizona.org (click the Winter Recreation link) or by calling 1.844.256.SNOW.

Wherever you travel in the high country, be prepared for the possibility of delays caused by crashes or heavy traffic. Those using US 180 northwest of Flagstaff, for example, may need 90 minutes or more to get back to Flagstaff at day’s end due to snow-play traffic. While it won’t help avoid US 180 backups into Flagstaff, those heading south at day’s end can reach Interstate 17 faster by following signs to the Interstate 40 interchange at Butler Avenue and then heading west to I-17.