snow

Multiple stretches of Arizona’s highways were closed as of Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 21, due to a powerful winter storm whose fury continues across much of the state.

With the heavy weather expected to last into Friday and snow forecast to extend into southeastern Arizona overnight, the safest option remains delaying travel to and through higher elevations until the Arizona Department of Transportation’s plows have cleared highways of snow and ice. Motorists in lower elevations may see some snow along with considerable rainfall.

With another snowstorm forecast Tuesday afternoon in Arizona’s high country, keep in mind that the safest option while snow falls is delaying travel until Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows have had time to clear state highways.

A highway can close suddenly due to crashes and fast-accumulating snow. During recent snowstorms, northbound Interstate 17 climbing out of the Verde Valley toward Flagstaff and a steep section of eastbound Interstate 40 at Ash Fork Hill, just west of Williams, have closed temporarily as conditions deteriorated.

With snow forecast Friday in Arizona’s high country, please don't take lightly the power and unpredictability of a winter storm as well as the potential for it to leave you stranded on a highway.

Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows will be out in force, but driving conditions are hazardous during winter weather. A highway can close suddenly if enough snow falls in a brief period or if there are crashes, slide-offs or both. That happened during Monday’s snowstorm, when northbound I-17 climbing out of the Verde Valley closed for several hours due to a serious crash.

Although most roads on the forest remain open including Forest Road 300, recent snow in the Rim Country has made some forest roads impassable. For public safety and resource protection, The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ Black Mesa Ranger District (BMRD) has implemented wheeled motor vehicle restrictions, which affect access to Woods Canyon Lake and the Mogollon Rim Visitor’s Center. Both locations have been gated closed due to icy conditions but are still open to non-motorized modes of travel including skis, snowshoe, and foot. 

With snow forecast Saturday in Arizona’s high country and possibly reaching lower elevations than usual, please don't underestimate the power of a winter storm or overestimate your ability to negotiate highways covered with snow and ice.

Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows will be out in force, but driving conditions are expected to be hazardous during the storm. A highway can close suddenly if enough snow falls in a brief period or if there are crashes, slide-offs or both.

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