FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - As a winter storm moves through northern Arizona, more snow and ice makes driving conditions difficult in some areas.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is warning drivers to be careful, plan ahead and use 4-wheel drive or chains when traveling on Highway 260 between Heber and Payson.
During the morning of March 16, there was a weather-related closure on Interstate 40 near Winona. All lanes have since reopened.
ADOT's crews are working to keep the roads clear.
"We are very well prepared. Our crews are out in force. We have over 400 plow drivers and 200 plows, and they are out there right now. They work around the clock, 12 hour shifts in times like this," said ADOT's Laurie Merrill.
Check weather conditions before you travel and pack your vehicle with supplies in case of an emergency.
- Call 511 anywhere in Arizona or 1-888-411-ROAD (7623)
Leave prepared before heading north
After recent snowfall in the high country, the Arizona Department of Transportation is reminding drivers who are heading north to never park along highways to play in the snow.
Use the highway shoulders for emergencies only. Parking on them to play in the snow is hazardous in the following ways:
- Other drivers may be distracted by your vehicle.
- Other drivers may pull over as well to play in the snow, compounding the problem.
- Your vehicle may interfere with first responders who need to use the shoulder.
- Plows can throw snow and ice far off highways.
- It’s much safer to re-enter highways from on-ramps and other designated entrances
"Also, it’s not uncommon for lots of desert dwellers to take the opportunity to head north to play in the snow. So, remember to pack your patience and expect to spend extended time in your vehicle getting to and from snow play areas."
ADOT's suggestions for items to take along:
- Warm clothing and blankets
- A fully charged mobile phone and charger
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Drinking water
- Healthy snacks
- First-aid kit and necessary medications
- Ice scraper
- Small bag of sand or kitty litter for wheel traction
- Small folding shovel for snow removal
- Travel tool kit and battery cables
- Safety flares
- Plastic bags or containers for sanitation
- Road map(s)
ADOT says you and your vehicle must be prepared for driving in wintry conditions, including snow, ice and freezing temperatures.
- Get plenty of rest
- Plan your route in advance and notify someone about your route, destination and arrival time
- Take frequent breaks from driving
- Make sure your fuel tank is at least half to three-quarters full at all times
- Use snow tires, chains or studded tires as recommended or required. Studded tires are permitted on Arizona highways from Oct. 1 to May 1.
- Ensure your wipers, window defroster, headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals work
- Change your motor oil to a winter grade
- For electric or hybrid vehicles, be sure the battery has sufficient voltage and the connection cables are tight
Get more safety tips at https://azdot.gov/KnowSnow
For Flagstaff area snow-play locations, see FlagstaffArizona.org's Winter Recreation Map or call 844-256-SNOW.