Consider waiting out storms so ADOT’s snowplows can do their work
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.
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.
After a day of snow in Arizona’s high country, you’re likely to have company heading north Sunday to toss snowballs, make snow angels, etc.
Have a great time if you go. But do some essential research first, leave prepared to spend extended time in winter weather and avoid parking along highways to play in the snow.
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.