Know Snow

Be ready for rain, snow on highways heading into Christmas weekend

Be ready for rain, snow on highways heading into Christmas weekend

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Be ready for rain, snow on highways heading into Christmas weekend

Be ready for rain, snow on highways heading into Christmas weekend

December 21, 2023

Drivers should stay alert and slow down on wet or icy pavement

PHOENIX – A wet forecast as Christmas weekend approaches means drivers should focus on safety – including slowing down – if they are traveling in rain or snow, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Motorists should leave plenty of braking distance behind other vehicles, budget extra travel time and be patient if weather affects driving conditions. 

Here are additional winter and wet weather safety recommendations:

  • Stay up to date on weather and highway conditions: In addition to following National Weather Service forecasts (weather.gov), drivers can visit ADOT’s Traveler Information site at az511.gov, download the AZ511 app (download free for Apple and Android devices) or call 511 for highway conditions.

  • Leave prepared: Dress for cold weather if traveling into the high country. Bring extra clothes and gloves as part of an emergency prep kit in case you need to stop along a highway. Be sure your cellphone is charged and pack extra drinking water, food and prescription medications (in case you encounter delays).

  • Other items for an emergency kit: Blankets, flashlight, ice scraper, small shovel are helpful items to consider carrying in your vehicle if headed into winter weather conditions. ADOT has a complete list of items at azdot.gov/KnowSnow > Must haves for every vehicle.

Drivers also can look for travel condition messages on ADOT’s statewide network of electronic signs. ADOT’s feed on X/formerly Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) and the agency’s Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) also provide information and answers about highway conditions.

ADOT prepares for winter season with snowplow simulators

ADOT prepares for winter season with snowplow simulators

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT prepares for winter season with snowplow simulators

ADOT prepares for winter season with snowplow simulators

November 29, 2023

Immersive simulation helps operators train for ice, snow and other winter driving conditions

Each winter Arizonans count on snowplow operators to clear highways when snowstorms roll through Arizona’s high country. Operators of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s 200 snowplows have been training since mid-September on snowplow simulators to prepare for the upcoming season. 

ADOT’s five snowplow simulators, located in Flagstaff, Kingman, Holbrook, Phoenix and Tucson, are programmed with scenarios that are meant to mimic what operators may encounter on Arizona roads. A given training session can have a driver working in daytime or night in locations that include highways around the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff or the Grand Canyon National Park Airport, which ADOT operates. It’s a convenient and effective way for the drivers to learn and boost safety on the state’s highway system during the winter.

“These simulators help us to train our employees at a fraction of the cost that it would be if they were to take a plow out, spend funds on fuel and risk damaging equipment,” said Mario Ortega, ADOT training delivery manager. “With the simulator they can hit a sign, hit a vehicle, and we can start over. In the real world, there are no do-overs.”

Instructors can create different simulations that give ADOT snowplow operators the opportunity to drive in various scenarios, including daytime and nighttime conditions, rainy or low visibility circumstances and even the iciness and material of the roads. The simulator will react, allowing an operator to feel what it’s like to drive over railroad tracks or encounter an icy highway.

All ADOT snowplow operators are required to complete a refresher class on the simulator every year in addition to holding a commercial driver license.

“This is a tool for our operators, a tool for the state, for ADOT, to make the roads safer for the traveling public and our operators,” Ortega said.

In the real world, drivers of passenger cars can also do their part to keep everyone safer:

  • Always stay at least four car-lengths behind a snowplow

  • Never attempt to pass a snowplow, to prevent crashing into the massive vehicle.

  • More information about driving near snowplows can be found at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

ADOT has over 400 trained snowplow operators who work around the state. During the busy winter season last year, ADOT spent nearly $13.8 million on winter operations. Operators covered 1.2 million miles, nearly twice as many as they drove during the 2021-22 winter season and logged more than 66,000 hours – more than double the previous season’s total.

ADOT reminds travelers to prepare for winter conditions. Visit ADOT’s 511 Travel Information site or download the AZ511 app (free in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store) to check highway information before leaving and real-time conditions via the statewide network of highway cameras. Ensure that your vehicle is in good working order with tires equipped to handle snow. 

 

Get more information and tips for driving in winter weather at azdot.gov/KnowSnow

Driving in Arizona's high country in the winter? Here's what to keep in your car

Driving in Arizona's high country in the winter? Here's what to keep in your car

SR24-1

Driving in Arizona's high country in the winter? Here's what to keep in your car

Driving in Arizona's high country in the winter? Here's what to keep in your car

By David Woodfill / ADOT Communications
January 12, 2023
Snowplow on the road

I'm just going to say it: I hate the cold.

Winter preparedness kitAnything under, say, 70 degrees, and I'm a whining, grumbling malcontent. So, as the weather outside turns cold and gray, you can often find me hovering near a space heater, or swathed in some combination of flannel and wool on my couch.

To that end, I know that I'm in big trouble if I get stranded unprepared in my car during winter, so I have a checklist of things to pack, including the following:

  • Fully-charged cell phone
  • Extra food and water
  • Necessary medications, prescriptions
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Extra blankets or clothes
  • Ice scraper
  • Kitty litter or sand for wheel traction
  • Safety flares
  • Bruce Springsteen's greatest hit CD

OK, maybe the Springsteen CD isn't that necessary – your musical taste might be different – but the point is that traveling in winter weather is serious business and potentially dangerous if you break down or get stuck behind a road closure. Arizona may not be renowned for its wintery weather, but the high country can receive a lot of snowfall in short periods of time – remember when Flagstaff got 36 inches in a 24-hour period in 2019? – that can impact even the best-laid travel plans. Taking a few measures to increase your comfort and safety is just, well, common sense. 

I also make sure my vehicle is prepared by packing chains, using the proper antifreeze, checking my windshield wiper blades and fluid, lights and fluid and changing my oil to winter grade. 

So, before winter officially arrives, put together an emergency kit and get your vehicle winterized.

And don't forget to bring along "The Boss." I recommend the Nebraska album. 

For more information on safe winter driving check out our “Know Snow” tips. If you have any questions, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Be prepared for wet or icy highways as winter storms cross state

Be prepared for wet or icy highways as winter storms cross state

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Be prepared for wet or icy highways as winter storms cross state

Be prepared for wet or icy highways as winter storms cross state

December 27, 2022

PHOENIX – As the holiday travel season continues, drivers should be prepared for slick conditions on the state’s highways, as winter storms bring rain and snow to Arizona over the next several days. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to avoid traveling during any severe winter storm conditions. Motorists should stay up to date on forecasts from the National Weather Service and plan their travel accordingly.

Periods of snow and rain are forecast across the state into the New Year’s weekend. Drivers in lower elevations should plan for possible rain and wet roadways at times over the next several days. 

Safer conditions will exist in the state’s high country once ADOT snowplow crews have a chance to clear snow and ice from highways impacted by any winter storms. Here are some winter and wet weather safety recommendations:

Slow down and leave extra room: Adjust your speed to conditions. Slowing down and leaving space between your vehicle and vehicles ahead of you on icy or wet roads can prevent crashes or keep your vehicle from skidding when conditions are slippery.

Leave prepared: Dress for cold weather if traveling into the high country. Bring extra clothes and gloves as part of an emergency prep kit in case you need to stop along a highway. Be sure your cellphone is charged and pack extra drinking water, food and prescription medications (in case you encounter delays).

Other items for an emergency kit: Blankets, flashlight, ice scraper, small shovel, container with sand or kitty litter for tire traction if your vehicle is stuck in icy conditions. ADOT has a complete list of items at azdot.gov/KnowSnow (look for “Must haves for every vehicle”).

Stay up to date: In addition to following National Weather Service forecasts, drivers can visit ADOT’s Traveler Information site at az511.gov or call 511 for highway conditions. Pay attention to messages on ADOT’s network of electronic signs. ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) also provide information and answers about highway conditions. 

To assist travelers this winter, ADOT has partnered with the National Weather Service to create color-coded graphics of forecast storm severity. ADOT uses these graphics on its social media accounts to help drivers know the anticipated intensity of a snowstorm and make informed decisions about traveling. 

ADOT reminds drivers to “Know Snow” before traveling north

ADOT reminds drivers to “Know Snow” before traveling north

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT reminds drivers to “Know Snow” before traveling north

ADOT reminds drivers to “Know Snow” before traveling north

March 3, 2022

PHOENIX – With snow in the forecast for the Flagstaff area from Friday afternoon through early Saturday morning, the Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to check road conditions and be prepared before heading north.

One of the best things drivers can do is check weather and road conditions before leaving. Waiting out a storm before traveling is the safest and most efficient option because it allows ADOT’s snowplows to clear the highways more quickly. A highway takes much longer to plow when it’s jammed with vehicles that shouldn’t be traveling on a roadway that’s slick with snow and ice.

Keep up to date with 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.

It’s important to remember if you are traveling to respect the plow. Avoid passing a snowplow that’s clearing a highway until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass, and never assume a snowplow operator knows your vehicle is nearby. If you can’t see the plow driver, there’s a good chance the driver can’t see you.

Other safety tips that ADOT offers at azdot.gov/KnowSnow include slowing down, leaving extra room behind the vehicle ahead, having a fully charged cell phone, taking along warm clothing, blankets, food and water, and packing an emergency kit. Check your vehicle before heading out in winter weather, making sure – at a minimum – that the tires, heater and windshield wipers are in good shape.

With heavy snow forecast, ADOT advises waiting before traveling

With heavy snow forecast, ADOT advises waiting before traveling

I-17 101 traffic interchange

With heavy snow forecast, ADOT advises waiting before traveling

With heavy snow forecast, ADOT advises waiting before traveling

February 22, 2022

PHOENIX – With snow impacting Arizona’s high country today through Thursday, the Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to consider delaying all but essential travel before heading north.

The National Weather Service is predicting a high impact snowstorm snowfall down to 4000 feet in elevation and as much as 2 inches per hour on Wednesday. Waiting out the storm before traveling is the safest and most efficient option because it allows ADOT’s snowplows to clear the highways more quickly. A highway takes much longer to plow when it’s crowded with vehicles that shouldn’t be traveling on a roadway that’s slick with snow and ice. 

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. In a high-impact snowstorm, drivers should avoid travel if possible. If delay is not possible, strongly consider using 4x4 or snow chains and prepare to spend extended amounts of time in the vehicle.

Weather and road conditions can change rapidly during a winter storm, so if delaying travel is not possible, leave prepared with the expectation of spending extended time on the road. Remember to slow down, leave extra room behind the vehicle ahead of you, and pack 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.

Also important to remember if you must travel is to respect the plow. While ADOT’s snowplow operators are ready to help you by clearing the highways, you should help them in return. 

Avoid passing a snowplow that’s clearing a highway until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass, and never assume a snowplow operator knows your vehicle is nearby. If you can’t see the plow driver, there’s a good chance the driver can’t see you.

Remember: The safest place on a highway when it’s snowing is trailing a safe distance - about four car lengths - behind a snowplow.

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

Going to play in the snow? Leave prepared and stay safe

Going to play in the snow? Leave prepared and stay safe

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Going to play in the snow? Leave prepared and stay safe

Going to play in the snow? Leave prepared and stay safe

February 17, 2022

PHOENIX – Snowfall in the high country and a three-day weekend are great excuses to head north for some snowplay. Unfortunately, vehicles tend to wind up parked on the shoulder of a highway like US 180 or even Interstate 17 rather than pulled safely into a designated parking area well off the road. This creates a hazard for more than just the occupants. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation reminds those heading to play in the snow that highway shoulders are for emergencies only and that parking on them to play in the snow is hazardous in a number of ways:

  • Other drivers may be distracted by your vehicle.
  • Other drivers may pull over as well to play in the snow, compounding the problem.
  • Your vehicle may interfere with first responders who need to use the shoulder.
  • Plows can throw snow and ice far off highways.
  • It’s much safer to re-enter highways from on-ramps and other designated entrances.

These dangers apply along all state highways, including US 180 northwest of Flagstaff, where a few snow play areas are located. Those who park on highway shoulders to play, even in areas where traffic may seem light, are endangering themselves and others. Locations of designated snow-play areas are available at FlagstaffArizona.org (follow the Winter Recreation Map link). There’s also a hotline at 844.256.SNOW.

Also, remember to be patient and expect to spend extended time in your vehicle getting to and from snow play areas as lots of people typically head north after it snows.

It’s also important to leave prepared before heading north to play in the snow. ADOT’s suggestions of items to have in a vehicle include warm clothing and blankets, a fully charged mobile phone and charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, drinking water, healthy snacks, a first-aid kit and necessary medications. Get plenty of rest, plan your route and take frequent breaks from driving.

Make sure your gas tank is at least half to three-quarters full at all times, and ensure that your wipers, window defroster, headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals work. 

To stay up-to-date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information website at az511.gov or call 511. ADOT’s Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page (/AZDOT) are excellent sources of information and interaction.

Get more safety tips at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

New year? Resolve to drive safer!

New year? Resolve to drive safer!

SR24-1

New year? Resolve to drive safer!

New year? Resolve to drive safer!

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
January 17, 2022

So here we are, in early 2022, and you may have already blown off your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get more sleep and be more patient with your in-laws.

OK, you tried. A little. It’s not like it’s life or death or anything.

But ADOT wants to suggest a few resolutions that actually could save your life. With a little help from some of our past traffic safety messages, we urge you to adopt the following resolutions:  

Drive slower, live longer. Slow down. Did you know that speeding is the most common driver violation related to crashes and, historically, is a factor in about a third of all traffic fatalities each year? The faster you go, the less control you have over your vehicle and the less time you have to react to the other guy’s driving error. If not for yourself, then slow down for your loved ones.

Buckle up, buttercup. Wear seatbelts. This simple habit, so easy to acquire with just a little practice, is a proven life safer, often meaning the difference between life and death in a crash. So make it a practice to get in your car, put on your seatbelt, adjust your sunglasses and then start your car.

Designated drivers make the best dates. Don't drive drunk. Impaired driving is a leading factor in crash fatalities. If you know you're going to drink alcohol, designate a driver or make alternative plans to get home safely.

Phone down, eyes up. Don’t text and drive.  It’s against the law to text while driving. It doesn’t matter if you’re making up with a loved one or getting a job offer. None of it matters if you’re not around. 

Move Over when you see flashing lights. If you can do so safely, shift over one lane when you see responders assisting a vehicle on the shoulder of a highway. It's not only the law, but this gives them a safe place to work.  

Don’t dally after a minor crash. It’s the law. If you are in a fender bender with no injuries, the most crucial thing to remember is simple: Get out of the travel lanes. Once your car is safely out of harm's way you can wait for a tow truck or law enforcement to arrive.

Download the free ADOT Alerts and AZ511 apps. To get alerts about unexpected events on your route, and to check traffic conditions before you head out, you’ll want to download these apps here. They will save you time and headaches.

 

Good day for snowplay? Don't park on highway shoulders

Good day for snowplay? Don't park on highway shoulders

SR24-1

Good day for snowplay? Don't park on highway shoulders

Good day for snowplay? Don't park on highway shoulders

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
December 20, 2021

Over Salt River and up I-17, to play in the snow we go!
We’ll be really smart, and get an early start, as US 180 traffic can be very slow!
On the shoulders of US 180, the snow is so white and close! 
But help first repsonders out and park in legal lots, because emergency vehilces need the whole road.

It happens every winter. After a hefty snowfall in northern Arizona, many of us in the Phoenix-metro area get a sense of excitement.  

Snow! Let’s go! We can dust off our mittens and hats and build snowmen!

But, before you hop in your car and drive north, there's something to know: Don't park on highways to play in the snow. We get it, everyone in the car gets excited at seeing the first dusting of snow. But there's better snow -- and more snow -- to play in that isn't on the highway shoulder, so keep driving.

Not only is parking on highway shoulders dangerous for people and their vehicles, it puts in harm's way other motorists and can restrict travel for first responders.

A few more Know Snow tips for making the most out of a winter day-trip to Arizona's high country:

Give snowplows plenty of room to work. That means staying at least four car lengths behind a plow and never passing a snowplow that’s clearing the road.

Consider leaving for home a little earlier. When congestion occurs, it typically peaks after snow-play areas along US 180 near Flagstaff start closing around 4 p.m. To avoid the worst traffic, you may want to begin your trip home earlier in the afternoon. 

Playing in snow at I-17 interchange
Be prepared. No matter where you’re traveling, if you are headed into snowy, icy or cold conditions, you want to be prepared for potential delays. Follow our Know Snow advice, including taking warm clothing and blankets, a fully charged mobile phone and charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, drinking water, healthy snacks, a first-aid kit and necessary medications. Also make sure your gas tank is at least half to three-quarters full at all times and ensure that your wipers, window defroster, headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals work.

One of the most important tips takes place before you even get behind the wheel: Research weather conditions. Visit az511.gov or dial 511 for updated road conditions. Follow ADOT's Twitter account at @ArizonaDOT and our Facebook page. However, never use a cellphone or mobile device while driving.

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

November 16, 2021

PHOENIX – Cooler temperatures are around the corner and that means snow in Arizona’s high country. To help travelers this winter, the Arizona Department of Transportation has partnered with the National Weather Service to create graphics that use their color code for storm severity to better inform drivers of what to expect from winter storms.

Orange is a moderate-impact snowstorm. With this type of storm, drivers should slow down when roads are slick with snow and ice and prepare to spend longer on the road. Leave extra room behind the vehicle ahead. Red is a high-impact snowstorm. In this scenario, drivers should avoid travel if possible. If delay is not possible, strongly consider using 4x4 or snow chains and prepare to spend extended amounts of time in the vehicle. Purple is an extreme-impact storm with 2 to 3 inches of snowfall per hour. Drivers should avoid travel altogether during this type of storm due to dangerous travel conditions.

In each case, drivers should pack an emergency kit that includes blankets, warm clothing, a fully charged cell phone, food and water, medication and sand or kitty litter.

ADOT will use these graphics on its social media accounts to help drivers know what intensity of snowstorm to expect so drivers can make informed decisions about travel. ADOT’s Twitter account (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) provide real-time information and interaction.

Drivers can also check road conditions by calling 511 or visiting az511.gov. 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.

ADOT is also ready to help keep highways clear of snow and ice this winter with its fleet of 200 snowplows. Many of these plows include auxiliary cab heaters to keep drivers warm while not idling and wasting fuel; heated windshields to prevent wipers from freezing and getting stuck; backup cameras and a camera and laser guidance system to help guide operators; state-of-the-art lighting packages, and front flex plows that can bend in different configurations to remove snow.

If you come across a snowplow working to clear the road, always help out the plow driver by staying back until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass. Also, never assume a snowplow operator knows your vehicle is nearby. If you can’t see the plow driver, there’s a good chance the driver can’t see you.

Check out more safety tips before resuming your travels this winter season by visiting azdot.gov/KnowSnow.