PHOENIX — The National Weather Service is forecasting a major winter storm will impact parts of Arizona beginning tonight and continuing through Friday afternoon. Heavy rain is expected in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, with heavy snow down to elevations as low as 2,000 feet in some areas. The White Mountains are expecting 2 to 3 feet of snow.
Arizona state agencies are monitoring weather conditions and working with local partners to ensure they have the resources they need to protect public safety. The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA), Department of Transportation (ADOT), and Department of Public Safety (DPS) are coordinating communications and preparation efforts.
“We encourage all Arizonans to be cautious during these winter weather conditions,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Our agencies are taking proactive steps to keep Arizonans safe. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide assistance as needed.”
Emergency officials recommend that Arizonans avoid traveling during the storm in affected areas and delay plans until weather conditions improve. If travel is absolutely necessary in these areas, check weather conditions before leaving and be prepared with emergency supplies.
State Agency Actions
- ADOT has about 200 snowplows statewide ready to help keep highways clear of snow and ice.
- ADOT has 400 certified snowplow operators who will work around the clock during storms.
- ADOT crews have been treating the highways in advance of the storm with de-icing material, making it easier for crews to plow snow off of the road surface during a storm and reducing the temperature at which ice will form on bridges.
- DPS is coordinating with ADOT to be prepared to respond to potential flooding on freeways in the Phoenix metro area as a result of heavy rainfall.
- DPS is shifting available personnel to affected areas and partnering with local authorities to assist with rescues.
- DEMA has activated five emergency centers to help assist local authorities with emergency response in the hardest hit areas.
Tips For Drivers
- Avoid traveling during the storm. Before traveling, check weather conditions. The safest option is to delay travel during the worst weather and give ADOT’s snowplow operators time and space to clear the highways.
- Check road conditions by calling 511 or going to az511.gov. ADOT’s Twitter account (@ArizonaDOT) also gives real-time information and interaction.
- If delaying travel isn’t possible, leave prepared to spend extended time in winter conditions.
- Slow down and drive for the conditions you’re in. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Pack an emergency kit that includes a first-aid kit, warm clothes, blankets, food and water, a fully charged cellphone, medication if needed and sand or kitty litter for tire traction.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good condition with working windshield wipers, heater and tires properly inflated. Make sure you have at least half to three-quarters tank full of gas at all times.
- It’s unsafe to park on the side of a highway to play in the snow. Highway shoulders are for emergencies.
ADOT says the incoming snowstorm will close northern Arizona MVD offices on Thursday.
The Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division is closing 12 offices in northern and northeastern Arizona for Thursday, February 21, in anticipation of poor driving conditions due to the incoming snowstorm.
The closure affects offices in: Chinle, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Holbrook, Kingman, Page, Payson, Prescott, Show Low, Tuba City, Window Rock and Winslow.
MVD will review weather conditions as needed to see if closures will be required for Friday as well. If any of the affected MVD offices re-open for business on Friday, road tests will not be offered in the region.
Customers may check in periodically at www.azdot.gov/mvd for more updates.
Many MVD services are provided online at no additional charge at www.servicearizona.com.