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With snow forecast, don’t overestimate your abilities, underestimate storm

Conditions can change quickly, stranding vehicles on highways
January 19, 2018

PHOENIX – With snow forecast Saturday in Arizona’s high country and possibly reaching lower elevations than usual, please don't underestimate the power of a winter storm or overestimate your ability to negotiate highways covered with snow and ice.

I-40 closure west of FlagstaffArizona Department of Transportation snowplows will be out in force, but driving conditions are expected to be hazardous during the storm. A highway can close suddenly if enough snow falls in a brief period or if there are crashes, slide-offs or both.

The safest decision when snow falls is delaying travel until the storm passes and highways have been cleared.

Because of the rapidly changing nature of snowstorms, road conditions and visibility can change in an instant. A couple of weeks ago, the Ash Fork Hill area along Interstate 40 west of Flagstaff got so much snow overnight from a storm predicted to only drop a few inches that the freeway closed temporarily. On Christmas Eve in 2016, vehicles lined up for miles were stuck on Interstate 40 west of Flagstaff overnight due to the heavy snowfall and a large number of crashes and slide-offs.

SR 89A SUV hits snowplowIn addition to the obvious danger if your vehicle and others are stuck on or along a snow-covered highway, this also makes clearing the roadway much more difficult and time-consuming for ADOT’s snowplows.

Before deciding whether and when to travel, check weather reports and get the latest highway conditions by checking ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at, calling 511 or reviewing ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT). When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, a free app available at will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

If delaying travel isn’t possible, leave prepared for the possibility that you’ll spend extended time in winter conditions. Pack an emergency kit with items like extra blankets, warm clothes, food and water, cat litter or sand for traction, a first-aid kit and a fully charged cellphone.

Plow-US 180-Kendrick ParkSlow down and drive for the conditions you’re in. Be sure to leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

Give snowplows plenty of room to work. Avoid passing a plow until the driver pulls aside to let traffic by.

For more winter driving tips, visit

The Arizona Ombudsman – Citizens Aide helps you resolve ongoing issues with State Agencies.

Civil RightsTitle VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, o discapacidad.  Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles en Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.