Flagstaff

 With recent snowfall transforming much of Arizona’s high country into a winter wonderland, snow-play sites should become busy destinations this weekend. That means travelers can expect heavy traffic and delays around some popular areas.

Those heading to snow-play sites along US 180 should be prepared to spend extended time in winter conditions and be ready for traffic backups returning to Flagstaff that build as the afternoon goes on.

Planning a trip to play in the snow Sunday? Leave prepared for heavy traffic around popular snow-play sites and the potential for more winter weather to arrive as early as Sunday afternoon.

Highway conditions can deteriorate quickly during severe weather as snow accumulates and drivers struggle, and closures can happen suddenly and be prolonged.

When the snow flies in Northern Arizona, people from all over the state come and play in the Flagstaff area.

Three-day weekends, such as the one upcoming, are weekends when masses of people converge upon northern Arizona and Coconino National Forest to play in the snow. Drivers, visitors and residents will need to have extra patience and be courteous to each other.

Recent snows have brought many visitors to snow play areas along state Route 180, north of Flagstaff, which has caused dangerous conditions as people are parking illegally on the side of SR 180.

With light snow in the forecast heading into a long weekend, winter recreation areas along US 180 near Flagstaff are likely to attract heavy traffic that leads to delays.

Those planning to visit snow-play areas along US 180 over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend should leave prepared to spend extended time in winter weather – and to face traffic backlogs getting back to Flagstaff that increase as the day goes on.

Snow in Arizona’s high country is a magnet for desert dwellers looking to ski, sled, make snowmen and have snowball fights.

Too often, however, a vehicle full of people heading to play in the snow winds up parked on the shoulder of a state highway or even Interstate 17 rather than pulled safely into a designated parking area well off the road. This creates a hazard for more than just the occupants.

The Eastside project has produced piles of debris from hand-thinning of trees, which will be burned tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 29) near Flagstaff and will produce smoke visible to surrounding residents.

The pile burns will be in two main locations: one is located about two miles south of Little America near Pine Canyon subdivision and the Heckethorn community. The other is located north of Flagstaff near Schultz Pass. The burns will begin around 9 a.m. and continue through the afternoon, with smoke predicted to move toward the northeast.

Fire managers are planning several prescribed burn projects next week, likely starting Tuesday (Oct. 11), to reintroduce fire into the Ponderosa pine ecosystem and reduce forest fuel accumulation in strategic areas around northern Arizona communities.

Two of the projects—Eastside and Griffith Springs—will be close to Flagstaff and produce smoke plumes that will be very noticeable to those in and around Flagstaff. However, the smoke should rise and move toward the northeast, dissipating by the end of the day. Ignitions usually begin about 9 a.m.

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