Extreme conditions forecast, slow down on icy or wet highways
As additional winter storms are forecast to bring powerful statewide winds as well as blizzard conditions in the high country this week, the Arizona Department of Transportation is recommending drivers delay highway travel until conditions have improved.
The National Weather Service is forecasting whiteout conditions at times in northern and eastern Arizona this week. Strong winds in excess of 50 mph will create hazards for drivers of high profile vehicles.
Drivers who choose to travel during this week’s storms should be prepared to spend extended time on the road in extreme winter conditions. You should avoid traveling in winter weather to avoid situations where highways are impassable for long periods of time. Tracking the forecast and packing an emergency travel kit before traveling are among ADOT’s safety recommendations.
Meanwhile, drivers in lower-elevation locations also should plan for high winds, possible rain and wet roadways. All drivers should be prepared to slow down if and when conditions are diminished.
Safer conditions will exist in upper-elevation areas once ADOT’s team of snowplow operators has time to clear snow and ice from highways. Here are winter and wet weather safety recommendations:
- Slow down and leave extra room: Adjust your speed to conditions. Slowing down and leaving space between your vehicle and vehicles ahead of you on icy or wet roads can prevent crashes or keep your vehicle from skidding when conditions are slippery.
- Stay up to date on weather and highway conditions: In addition to following National Weather Service forecasts (weather.gov/fgz/WinterWeather), drivers can visit ADOT’s Traveler Information site at az511.gov, download the AZ511 app or call 511 for highway conditions.
- Leave prepared: Dress for cold weather if traveling into the high country. Bring extra clothes and gloves as part of an emergency prep kit in case you need to stop along a highway. Be sure your cellphone is charged and pack extra drinking water, food and prescription medications (in case you encounter delays).
- Other items for an emergency kit: Blankets, flashlight, ice scraper, small shovel, container with sand or kitty litter for tire traction if your vehicle is stuck in icy conditions. ADOT has a complete list of items at azdot.gov/KnowSnow (look for “Must haves for every vehicle”).
- Tire Chains: Drivers also should anticipate that, depending on the severity of winter storm conditions, chains and/or four-wheel drive vehicle capability are likely to be recommended on some highways impacted by snow or ice.
ADOT and law enforcement agencies again remind travelers not to stop next to highways, including I-17, US 180, SR 87 and SR 260, to play in the snow. Doing so is unsafe and drivers face a citation from law enforcement. People should instead go to established snow play areas. Parking along highway shoulders for snow play is not allowed, since that can block areas that emergency response vehicles may need to use.
Drivers also can look for messages on ADOT’s statewide network of electronic signs. ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) also provide information and answers about highway conditions.