By TARA ALATORRE
PHOENIX – Winter has officially arrived in Arizona with snow blanketing the high country and a cold snap bringing freezing conditions to Phoenix and other areas across the state last week, and according to weather forecasts the snow is expected to stay a while.
On December 28, nearly 10-inches of snow fell in parts of Flagstaff, two-inches in Williams, about three-inches in Show Low. Also, areas across Southeast Arizona saw up to three-inches of snow fall last weekend near Tucson.
A freeze warning remained in affect across southern Arizona deserts and the greater Phoenix Metropolitan area, and some of the coldest nights of the winter season were experienced in parts of northern Arizona last weekend.
At the time this article was written the National Weather Service forecasts predicted more snow in northern Arizona and rain showers across central and eastern Arizona over the New Year.
With the snow pack also comes traffic, icy road conditions and crowds of recreationists. Travelers should expect longer travel times when headed to popular snowy destinations and take safety precautions before leaving for the high-country.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is offering some tips for anyone wanting to play in the snow:
- It is unsafe to park along highway shoulders to play, and you should not sled or play on slopes next to highways.
- Make sure to bring winter coats, blankets, a fully charged cellphone and a portable charger, plenty of fuel, drinking water, snacks and essential medications.
- Use designated parking areas.
- Highway shoulders are for emergencies only and stopping there can put you in danger.
- Research where you plan to play in the snow and find out what designated parking is available.
- Be sure to check highway conditions before traveling and check weather forecasts.
- Avoid delays by making an earlier start back home.
Estimated travel times to Flagstaff, Prescott and other popular snow destinations are now available on the ADOT message boards on the Interstate 17.
Anyone planning on visiting the Flagstaff area to play in the snow, the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau lists snow-play locations or you can call the hotline 1-844-256-SNOW or visit FlagstaffArizona.org.
Travelers are also encouraged to visit ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov or call 511, which provides alerts to incidents and road conditions. Or download the free ADOT Alerts app that will notify users about weather-related delays and closures.