Winter storm to bring snow, slick roads to southern Arizona

Difficult driving conditions possible at higher elevations Wednesday

Photo of an ADOT snowplow

TUCSON – Motorists who plan to travel Wednesday in southern Arizona should plan ahead for heavy snow in the mountains and slick roads in the lower deserts as a winter storm moves into the area, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. 

The National Weather Service is forecasting 6 to 10 inches of snow in mountain areas and even higher snowfall accumulations near mountain peaks, along with wind gusts of up to 40 mph. This will translate to slippery road conditions and significantly reduced visibility in blowing snow. Bursts of heavy snow driven by wind may make travel difficult or even hazardous. 

The storm’s most severe impact is expected in the White Mountains of Graham and Greenlee counties, Galiuro and Pinaleno mountains including Mt Graham, along with the Catalina and Rincon mountains. The storm is expected to be most active from mid-morning Wednesday into the evening.

Drivers should consider delaying travel to give ADOT snowplows time to clear the roads, as it takes longer for plow operators to clear highways when traffic is heavy. 

Rain and slick roads will impact travel at lower elevations as the storm moves across southern Arizona.

Motorists can check road conditions by calling 511 or visiting az511.gov. ADOT’s Twitter account (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) provide real-time information and interaction. And the free ADOT Alerts app available at azdot.gov/ADOTAlerts will send critical information, including alternate routes, should snow and ice close a major highway.

As part of ADOT’s partnership with the National Weather Service, the agency will post the red high-impact storm graphic on its social media accounts to help drivers make informed decisions about travel. 

As is the case in any strong winter storms, drivers should avoid travel if possible. If drivers chose to travel, they should consider using 4x4 or snow chains and prepare to spend extended amounts of time in the vehicle.

Winter storm travel tips include slowing down, leaving extra room behind the vehicle ahead of you, and packing an emergency kit containing a fully charged cell phone, warm clothing, blankets, food and water, medications and sand or kitty litter in case you get stuck in the snow.

Drivers who encounter snowplows should respect them as their operators work to help drivers by clearing highways. Avoid passing a snowplow that’s clearing a roadway, and never assume a snowplow operator knows your vehicle is nearby. If you can’t see the plow’s driver, the operator probably can’t see you either. 

Visit azdot.gov/KnowSnow for more winter driving tips.