Whether yours is a white Christmas or a wet Christmas, the Arizona Department of Transportation will make you a deal: With rain and snow in the forecast, ADOT will be ready to respond before, during and after to whatever the weather may bring. In return, you should study weather and highway conditions before your trip, leave prepared and drive with patience ‒ or delay travel if conditions warrant.
The latest National Weather Service forecast for Arizona’s high country calls for between 6 and 12 inches of snow at elevations between 6,000 and 8,000 feet beginning late Saturday morning and continuing into Saturday evening. Windblown snow is expected to create hazardous driving conditions in areas.
For lower elevations, the latest forecast calls for rain and gusting wind during the same period.
ADOT has nearly 200 snowplows and 400 certified snowplow operators ready to clear highways around the state, but if snowfall is heavy and widespread it may take some time for them to reach every stretch.
You hold the keys to safety if your route may have snow and ice. These are just some of the winter-driving tips available at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.
- Slow down: Adjust your speed to conditions.
- Create space: Leave extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Avoid sudden braking.
- Give snowplows room: Slow down and stay at least four vehicle lengths behind a plow. Wait for a plow to pull over before passing, and remember: The safest place to be when there’s snow and ice on a road is behind a plow.
- Leave prepared: Bring extra clothing and gloves, make sure your tank is half to three-quarters full at all times, keep your cellphone charged and pack extra drinking water, snacks and all necessary medications.
- Pack an emergency kit: It should include blankets, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a container of sand or cat litter for traction and warning lights or reflectors.
- Beware of black ice: Melting snow can turn into ice, especially at night. Ice tends to form on bridges first and can be difficult to see.
- Consider waiting it out: Highways can close suddenly in severe weather due to accumulating snow and ice or due to crashes. If conditions warrant, delaying travel may be the safest decision.
Many of these tips apply to driving on wet roads as well, including waiting out threatening weather if need be. Here are some others:
- Inspect windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.
- Turn on headlights while driving.
- Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes.
Wherever your travels take you this holiday weekend, you can get the latest highway conditions by calling 511 or visiting the Arizona Traveler Information site (az511.gov), where traffic and weather cameras allow you to see current conditions around the state. ADOT’s Facebook (facebook.com/AZDOT) and Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) accounts are excellent sources of information and interaction.