Because of the rapidly changing nature of winter storms, the Interstate 40 grade west of Williams got so much snow in brief period overnight Tuesday that the freeway temporarily closed.
The Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest has temporarily closed and locked gates on seasonal roads and day-use sites in the upper elevations of Mt. Lemmon due to weather-related unsafe driving conditions. The main road leading up the mountain, the Catalina Highway, will remain open but may close periodically due to weather-related issues.
The Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District, will close Carr Canyon and Forest Road 368 from the bridge crossing to the end of the access road near Ramsey Vista Campground when winter weather causes potentially hazardous conditions. The road is expected to reopen March 1, 2018, but may open earlier if weather conditions are favorable.
While the road is closed both Ramsey Vista and Reef Townsite campgrounds will be closed. Walk-in traffic is welcome on Carr Road. The lower picnic area and adjacent parking area will be open to visitors.
With winter on the horizon, the Arizona Department of Transportation has spent months preparing for snow and ice that storms will dump on the state’s higher elevations.
ADOT has 375 certified snowplow operators ready to operate the agency’s nearly 200 snowplows, which are stationed around the state to keep people and commerce moving when snow falls on highways.
Recent winter storms brought plentiful amounts of snow to the White Mountains creating a prime time for winter recreation on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. There are plenty of activities to do in the winter to help squelch that cabin fever, but it’s imperative to be prepared and recreate responsibly.
Winter recreation preparation tips:
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.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Coconino National Forest are warning backcountry mountain travelers to be alert for potential avalanche hazards on the San Francisco Peaks. The existing snowpack, recent wind events, and a large amount of new snow could produce hazardous conditions in the backcountry. This includes side country area bordering Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area.
With back-to-back snowstorms bearing down on Arizona, know what you’re driving into before heading to the high country.
Highway conditions can deteriorate quickly during severe weather as snow accumulates and drivers struggle, and closures can happen suddenly and be prolonged. If enough snow falls, the Arizona Department of Transportation may close lesser-used highways while snowplows address busier routes.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Winter Storm Warning for Northern Arizona due to incoming snowstorms impacting the region.
The NWS is predicting a series of storms starting Thursday for elevations above 5500 feet. The series could bring over two feet of snow and continue until Monday evening with the most severe parts of the storm coming Friday night through Saturday.
Being prepared for an emergency makes good sense for everyone, and only takes a bit of preparation to ensure things go smoothly during a real disaster. The Phoenix Chapter of the American Red Cross says time spent on thinking things through will pay off immensely.
So, when something goes wrong during the winter season – say a sudden power outage at home or the family car breaks down on the highway – it’s all about preparation, which is the alternative to panic.