With snow in the Rim Country’s weather forecast and time off for the holidays, many people will be traveling to see and experience the new winter wonderland.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) urges motorists who travel into high country to monitor weather and road conditions before leaving and to avoid stopping along the side of the interstate or highway for non-emergency purposes such as playing in the snow.
• To check on the latest winter road conditions, call 5-1-1 or view this information on the Web at AZ511.gov. Dial 9-1-1 only for emergency situations.
• Leave at least 500 feet of distance between your vehicle and a snowplow or salt truck.
• Make sure your gas tank is full and you have some food, warm blankets and clothing in the vehicle in case of emergency. If you have a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged and working.
• Tell others about your travel route and itinerary, so that if you don’t arrive at your destination, they can contact law enforcement officers and inform them where to look.
• Keep others informed if you’re going to be late or encounter problems so they won’t worry needlessly.
• It’s safer to travel with passengers and convoy with other vehicles than it is to drive alone.
• Remember, the speed limit is based on clear roads and dry pavement, don’t drive too fast for conditions. Four-wheel drive doesn’t permit you to drive faster on snow-packed or icy roads.
• Watch for slippery spots on bridges and overpasses.
• Take note of mileposts, exit numbers or crossroads in case you slide off the road or are involved in a crash so that law enforcement officers and tow truck operators can find you.
• If the storm makes driving too hazardous or if your car breaks down, stay in the vehicle. Run your engine and heater for short intervals to stay warm. Be sure to crack the window to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.
• Add a winter solution/de-icer windshield washer fluid as summer solution will freeze solid. Wiper condition should be checked as well.
Check your vehicle’s tire tread thickness and condition, some motorists may elect to have winter tires installed, either studded or non-studded. Tire chains are also a good idea to have on-hand for traveling or living in the high country.
Stopping along a highway to play in the snow is dangerous and potentially deadly. Vehicles traveling too fast in snow conditions may slide uncontrolled off of the roadway. Parking along the roadways prevents snowplows from clearing roads and restricting traffic including emergency vehicles.
Motorists may also become stuck after pulling off of the roadway, which can be costly, requiring a tow truck to respond to pull the motorist out. Travelers can locate appropriate parks and other areas to enjoy the snow away from busy highways.
Visitors wanting to play in the snow in the Flagstaff area are asked to contact the Flagstaff Visitors Center at (928) 774-9541 or (800) 842-7293 or visit their Web site at http://flagstaffarizona.org to get the most current and up-to-date information along with a map and guide to the local snowplay recreational areas.
Keep in mind that snowplay areas fill up very quickly, so plan your trip accordingly
The following Web sites are to each of Arizona’s six national forests which provide more detailed information on snowplay and other recreational activities.
Tonto: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/home .shtml; Apache-Sitgreaves: http://www.fs.fed .us/r3/asnf/recreation/winter_act.shtml; Coronado: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/ forest/recreation/winter_activities/winter.shtml; Coconino: http://www.fs.fed.us/ r3/coconino; Kaibab: http://www.fs.fed.us/ r3/kai; Prescott: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/ prescott
For current road and weather conditions please visit the Arizona Department of Transportation Web site at www.az511.com.