With a blizzard weather warning in effect across much of the Coconino National Forest including the Rim Country, the Forest Service is expecting to close a number of roads by this afternoon.
Brady Smith, public information officer with the Coconino National Forest, said as of Monday morning there are no road restrictions in place but there should be several by this afternoon.
“Currently there are none in place but that could change in a moments notice,” he said. “We are getting updates from ranger districts” and should send out a press release by this afternoon.
A ranger at the Mogollon Rim Ranger District, located just south of Clints Well, said snow began falling in the area at 5 a.m. this morning. Although snow was falling, she said all roads woud remain open until a measurable amount of snowfall impacted roadways.
As of Monday Highway 87 and 260 were open with snow falling north of Strawberry, near milepost 274 to milepost 290, which is half a mile north of Clints Well, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the Rim Country through noon Tuesday.
Snowfall started Monday morning and is expected to increase through the day, with the heaviest snowfall Monday night into Tuesday morning.
At least a foot of snow is expected in elevations above 5,000 feet Monday morning and 35 MPH wind gusts.
“The combination of snowfall, blowing snow and strong gusty winds will combine to reduce visibilities and create blizzard conditions especially this evening through early Tuesday morning,” the Weather Service said on their Web site.
“Travel conditions will be extremely hazardous due to significant accumulations, considerable blowing and drifting snow and visibility near zero. Some roads will become impassable tonight.”
The Coconino National Forest reports forest roads are seasonally closed due to wet or snowy conditions, especially in higher elevations. Watch for posted closure signs, call one of the district offices, or check the Coconino National Forest website at www.coconinoforest.us.
Snowplay Area Notices
The Cinch Hook Pit area is closed to winter visitors and all snow recreation. For updates on the Cinch Hook area, contact the Mogollon Rim Ranger District at (928) 477-2255.
Wing Mountain Snowplay Area, located 10 miles northwest of Flagstaff off of Highway 180 on Forest Road 222B will open if it gets enough snow. The cost per vehicle is $10. Recreation Resource Management manages this site under a temporary special use permit with services including parking management, snowplowing, restrooms, and trash receptacles.
For conditions at Wing Mountain call (928) 226-0493 or visit www.snowplayaz.com.
Backcountry Travel on the San Francisco Peaks
Winter recreationists who plan on snowshoeing or skiing or snowboarding in backcountry areas should think preparedness. The most important aspect of preparedness is to provide someone with detailed trip plans, including exact locations and expected trip length.
Winter backcountry travel into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness from Arizona Snowbowl requires a free seasonal backcountry permit. Backcountry permits are available in Flagstaff on weekdays at the Peaks Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, and the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 1824 S Thompson Street. Permits will also be available at Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz Lodge weekend mornings when the ski area opens.
The best source for information on current snow conditions in the San Francisco Peaks backcountry is the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center www.kachinapeaks.org.
For more information, contact the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, (928) 527-3600 or visit www.coconinoforest.us