Budget extra time, slow down with snow and rain starting Monday night
From snow in the high country to rain at lower elevations, a winter storm that arrived Monday can create difficult driving conditions across Arizona.
Drivers should budget extra time, slow down and be ready to put off travel during the worst weather.
According to the National Weather Service, areas above 6,500 feet from the Grand Canyon through the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains are expected to get between 3 and 7 inches of snow, with the heaviest snowfall expected on Tuesday but will continue through Wednesday. The highest elevations, such as Hannagan Meadow far eastern Arizona, could see up to 10 inches.
Before setting out, check weather reports and get the latest highway conditions by visiting the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, calling 511 or reviewing ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT(link is external)). When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, a free app available at ADOTAlerts.com(link is external) will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.
If traveling in the high country, leave prepared to spend more time on the roads than usual and, in case you become stranded, pack an emergency kit that includes – at a minimum – extra blankets, warm clothes, food and water, sand or cat litter for traction, a first-aid kit and a fully charged cellphone.
ADOT’s 400 certified snowplow drivers, operating the agency’s nearly 200 snowplows, need room to work. Give them space, starting with staying at least four vehicle lengths behind and never passing a plow until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass. Never assume a snowplow operator knows you are nearby. If you can’t see the plow driver, there is a good chance he or she can’t see you.
Wherever you drive, turn on headlights in threatening weather and, when roads are icy or wet, reduce speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead.
When it’s raining, avoid water pooling in travel lanes. If your vehicle appears to be hydroplaning, ease your foot off the gas pedal until you regain traction rather than braking suddenly, which can cause a vehicle to skid. Be aware that the tires of larger vehicles can create spray that reduces visibility for those following too closely.
On local roads, don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look deep. Just a few inches of running water can carry away a vehicle, even a heavy pickup truck or SUV. Driving around “Road Closed” signs puts your life at risk and could get you cited under the state’s “stupid motorist” law.
Before a storm, it’s always wise to inspect windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.