Prepare for traffic, do your research before heading to play in the snow

January 20, 2018 - 9:45 pm

After a day of snow in Arizona’s high country, you’re likely to have company heading north Sunday to toss snowballs, make snow angels, etc.

Have a great time if you go. But do some essential research first, leave prepared to spend extended time in winter weather and avoid parking along highways to play in the snow. 

Start by checking the highway conditions available ataz511.gov, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Arizona Traveler Information site, or by calling 511. Also review the National Weather Service forecast (visitweather.gov/Flagstaff for the outlook around Flagstaff and Rim Country).

Research where you will play in the snow. If the Flagstaff area is your destination, the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau lists snow-play locations at FlagstaffArizona.org (follow the Winter Recreation link) and offers a hotline at 844-256-SNOW with the latest snow conditions.

Prepare as you would for any extended period in cold weather. That includes having winter coats, blankets, a fully charged cellphone and portable charger, plenty of fuel, drinking water, snacks and medications. ADOT offers more tips to help you get ready atazdot.gov/KnowSnow.

On your way, be sure to follow other ADOT Know Snow tips, including slowing down based on conditions and keeping an eye out for early morning ice that can form first on bridges. Give any snowplows you see a wide berth, staying at least four vehicle lengths behind. Never pass a snowplow that’s clearing a road.

One place to never play in the snow is parked along a highway. Highway shoulders are for emergencies only, and parking on them endangers not only you and your party but those in other vehicles as well as first responders who may need to use the shoulder. Park in designated areas beyond the highway right of way.

US 180 northwest of Flagstaff is likely to be popular with those seeking snow. If you go there, keep in mind that the area can attract heavy traffic that leads to long backups into Flagstaff as the day goes on. Making an earlier start back can increase your chances of avoiding delays on US 180, but there are no guarantees.

Those heading from US 180 to Interstate 17 southbound at day’s end can save time by using a marked alternate route to Interstate 40 at Butler Avenue, via Switzer Canyon Drive and Route 66, and then heading west to I-17.

When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, a free app available at ADOTAlerts.com will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

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