Snow storm prompts ADOT to caution against travel in Arizona's high country areas

Snowfall is expected to continue throughout the day in Flagstaff and the Phoenix metro area could see some rain in the forecast.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is advising drivers to consider delaying all but essential travel before heading north to the high country as the National Weather Service is forecasting daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible in the Flagstaff area during the day and another 1 to 2 inches in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 21 miles per hour.

Forecasts called for new snow accumulations through March 24 of up to 5 inches at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, 3 inches in Window Rock and 4 inches in Pinetop-Lakeside, the National Weather Service said.

If delaying travel isn't possible, ADOT says leave prepared and expect to spend extended time on the road.

"Remember to slow down, leave extra room behind the vehicle ahead of you, and pack an emergency kit containing a fully charged cell phone, warm clothing, blankets, food and water, medications and sand or kitty litter in case you get stuck in the snow."

ADOT Snowplow

"Waiting before traveling allows plows to clear the highways more quickly. It takes much longer when crowded with vehicles," the agency tweeted on March 23. (Arizona Dept. of Transportation)

ADOT: "Respect the plow!"

  • Never pass a snowplow! Slow down and be patient. 
  • Stay at least four car lengths behind snowplows and equipment. Plowed snow can create a cloud that reduces visibility, and spreaders on trucks throw salt or sand that can damage your vehicle.
  • Watch for snowplows operating in multiple travel lanes or in tandem.
  • If approaching an oncoming snowplow, slow down and give the plow extra room.

Leave prepared before heading north

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

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)
Overhead sign snow message

(Arizona Dept. of Transportation)

Use highway shoulders for emergencies only

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."


     

    You can check the latest weather conditions by visiting the FOX 10 Phoenix weather page, or download the Free FOX 10 Weather app, which is available on Apple iOS and Android.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.