More snow is coming to the high country, but motorists traveling on the state highway system in northern Arizona will have more aids for the snowfall months of January through March.
The Arizona Department of Transportation will have eight new overhead electronic signs to alert motorists to inclement weather, warn when chains are needed and suggest alternate routes.
The signs, which primarily are at strategic locations on I-40 and I-17, also will be used to advise motorists about traffic-delaying crashes, construction activity and maintenance work.
Added to six signs that were available last winter, ADOT will have 14 signs stretching from Kingman to Holbrook and from Flagstaff to the Sedona turnoff (State Route 179).
Eleven more signs will become operational before the snow stops falling in March, according to Marian Thompson, a project manager for ADOT. These will include four more in the Flagstaff area, two on I-17 near the Prescott junction (SR 69) and two on US 60 between Florence Junction and Globe to advise motorists traveling to the White Mountains.
Another aid ADOT has this winter is an increased number of lines for recorded phone messages on road conditions.
The agency, which had eight lines last winter, now has 48 lines. The computer-enhanced voice also has been improved.
The toll free phone number is 1-888-411-ROAD.
Arizona residents with computers can dial up the ADOT Web page (www.dot.state.az.us), click on Traffic Watch and Road Closures, then go to "Trailmaster" for up-to-date information on road conditions.
Don't let the recent respite from snow lull you into believing Arizona is going to have another dry winter like a year ago.
The National Weather Service Office in Flagstaff said the Flagstaff area normally receives 110 inches of snow with most of the snow coming between now and March.
A little more than 25 inches of snow had fallen between October and December, meaning the Flagstaff area (and the White Mountains) likely will receive more than 80 inches of snow before winter ends. The weather service office said it expects "slightly below or near climatic normals" this winter.
Tips for winter driving
Here are some reminders for driving in northern Arizona during the winter:
Reduce speed on icy and snowpacked roads;
Leave sufficient room between vehicles for safe stops;
Service vehicles before travel and keep gas tanks topped off;
Dress warmly or carry extra warm clothing;
Carry snow chains and know how to put them on;
Check radio, television and newspaper weather reports before you leave;
Be patient and allow additional time for your trip;
Stay in your vehicle if you're involved in a crash. DPS will respond;
Carry extra water and food.