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.

With nationwide attention on the recent rescue of the Klein family and questions generated from the public, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and its Search and Rescue Unit would like to take this opportunity to remind people about being prepared before winter travel. Each year, the Sheriff’s Office responds to countless calls from motorists who have become stranded or stuck on impassable roads because they were following “alternate routes” listed on technology devices and map apps.

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.

There is snow in Arizona’s high country. 

When it applies, that news has many desert dwellers traveling to ski, sled, throw snowballs, make snowmen and more.

Too often, though, people make these trips without preparing for potentially harsh conditions and the possibility that crashes, breakdowns, traffic or some other problem will leave them in the cold far longer than anticipated. It isn’t unheard of for Arizona Department of Transportation employees and first responders to find stranded motorists wearing shorts.

The Arizona Department of Transportation reminds drivers to be prepared as a mid-week storm system crosses the state. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind advisory from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. Winds up to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph are possible and motorists should be ready for low visibility due to blowing dust. Even though monsoon season is over, blowing dust is possible throughout the year.


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