Weather

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.

When temperatures soar, take along ADOT’s Extreme Heat Road Kit

When temperatures soar, take along ADOT’s Extreme Heat Road Kit

I-17 101 traffic interchange

When temperatures soar, take along ADOT’s Extreme Heat Road Kit

When temperatures soar, take along ADOT’s Extreme Heat Road Kit

August 25, 2023

These are the essentials if you are delayed or your vehicle breaks down

 

PHOENIX ‒ Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. But are you prepared for extreme heat should you encounter delays or if your vehicle breaks down? 

This is why the Arizona Department of Transportation has an Extreme Heat Road Kit available at azdot.gov/Severe-Weather. Even in a vehicle with air conditioning, it pays to consult this resource if you’re planning to travel in the next several days. 

Must-haves include a fully charged cellphone and a cooler with cold water for all passengers, including pets. But don’t stop there: ADOT’s Extreme Heat Road Kit suggests sun protection, such as sunscreen, an umbrella for shade, a wide-brimmed hat and loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing, should you have to exit your vehicle.

Keep your tank at at least three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Here are other recommendations should you become stranded along the road:

  • DRINK WATER. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.

  • If temperatures inside the vehicle become too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible.

  • Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement.

  • Raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights.

  • You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of underinflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

So before you travel in extreme heat, make sure you’re ready by visiting azdot.gov/Severe-Weather. And whatever you may be planning, be sure to check out Arizona Department of Health Services heat safety tips at azdhs.gov/Heat tailored for older adults, outdoor workers, schools and more.

Weather changes, our commitment to safety doesn't

Weather changes, our commitment to safety doesn't

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Weather changes, our commitment to safety doesn't

Weather changes, our commitment to safety doesn't

By Doug Nick / ADOT Communications
October 16, 2020

The old joke for much of the country is “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” But it’s hard to pull that one off in Arizona. It’s sunny. It’s dry. 

Except when it’s not. 

The weather may be somewhat predictable here, but it’s almost always diverse. (That whole “golf in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon thing.”) For some of us Arizona natives (yes, we exist), we can recall times when we were roasting in high temps in the aptly named Valley of the Sun and mere hours later were sitting by a fireplace in some snowy Arizona mountain town. 

What does this have to do with transportation? Well, um, everything. 

You see, splashing in a hotel pool in Tucson and then heading up the Catalinas may mean driving conditions that range from perfectly dry to requiring snow tires or chains within an hour’s time. It’s up to us and our great partners at the National Weather Service to work together to keep people informed, and more importantly, make travel as safe as possible. 

We’d like to thank the National Weather Service for recently naming the Arizona Department of Transportation a Weather Ready National Ambassador of Excellence in recognition of our collaboration to keep drivers up-to-speed on weather and road conditions and for the innovations we’ve pioneered. 

They include the installation in 2019 of a state-of-the-art X-band radar dust detection system on portions of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson, as well as variable speed limit signs that adjust in response to poor weather such as dust storms or heavy rainfall. 

ADOT also coordinates with the National Weather Service on an emergency action plan to respond quickly to flooding emergencies, especially in areas burned out by wildfires where flooding can be more severe. Streamlined communication and preventative measures as part of the federal Pathfinder Program allow maintenance crews to take quick action to close highways and keep drivers safe in the event of flooding.

Among the weather-related safety initiatives promoted by ADOT are the “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” dust storm awareness effort and the “Know Snow” campaign for winter driving safety.

ADOT will always be on the lookout for ways to do things innovatively, especially when it comes to safety. After all, the weather changes all the time and we need to keep up.

Prepare yourself and your vehicle before driving in extreme heat

Prepare yourself and your vehicle before driving in extreme heat

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Prepare yourself and your vehicle before driving in extreme heat

Prepare yourself and your vehicle before driving in extreme heat

June 2, 2020

PHOENIX – In addition to disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and other essentials to protect against COVID-19, those taking to state highways these days need to prepare themselves, their vehicles and their passengers in case they become stranded in extreme heat. 

At a minimum, that means taking extra drinking water for everyone, including pets, and a fully charged cellphone. Also think about having an umbrella for shade. 

It’s always important to be ready for a breakdown, flat tire or some other reason for delay, but that need is even more critical in extreme heat. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for driving in extreme temperatures include: 

Have sun protection: In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

  • Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.
     
  • Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.
     
  • Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.
     
  • Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you are stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire.
     
  • Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

More ADOT tips for traveling in extreme heat are available at azdot.gov/extreme-heat.

To learn how to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19, please visit the Arizona Department of Health Services website at azdhs.gov.

With heavy rain possible, be ready to slow down for safety

With heavy rain possible, be ready to slow down for safety

I-17 101 traffic interchange

With heavy rain possible, be ready to slow down for safety

With heavy rain possible, be ready to slow down for safety

September 20, 2019

PHOENIX ‒ Keep an eye on the forecast and be ready to slow down with heavy rain possible early next week.

If tropical moisture enters the state, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s safety tips include turning on headlights while driving in threatening weather and, when roads are wet, reducing speed and maintaining a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead.

Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes. If your vehicle appears to be hydroplaning, ease your foot off the gas pedal until you regain traction rather than braking suddenly, which can cause a vehicle to skid. Be aware that the tires of larger vehicles can create spray that reduces visibility for those following too closely.

When traveling away from freeways, don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look deep. Just a few inches of running water can carry away a vehicle, even a heavy pickup truck or SUV. Driving around “Road Closed” signs puts your life at risk and could get you cited under the state’s "stupid motorist" law.

Before a storm, it’s always wise to inspect windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.

To stay up to date on highway conditions across Arizona, please visit ADOT's Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov or dial 511. ADOT’s Twitter account, @ArizonaDOT, also has the latest highway conditions. However, never use a cellphone or other mobile device while driving.

From traffic to the weather, az511 now has you covered

From traffic to the weather, az511 now has you covered

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From traffic to the weather, az511 now has you covered

From traffic to the weather, az511 now has you covered

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
September 19, 2019

It's time for that big family trip to the Grand Canyon. Everyone's ready, the car's packed and the destination entered into the GPS.

Only things left before hitting the open road are double-checking the traffic and the weather. And thanks to some help from the National Weather Service, you can do both with a quick stop at our Arizona Traveler Information site, az511.gov.

Since we revamped the traveler information site last year, users have been able to see forecasts and a live weather radar to track potential precipitation, in addition to information about incidents, road closures, construction and heavy traffic. But now we've added functionality with the ability to see National Weather Service watches, warnings and alerts.

Like other features at az511.gov, you can select "Weather Alert" from the menu on the right side of the screen. Storm cloud icons will populate the map if any watches, warnings or alerts are active. Just click on one of those icons to see the text, along with a map of the area involved. And just like that you have a good idea about what to expect on that drive up Interstate 17, whether it be fellow tourists or a possible thunderstorm.

Even if you are not leaving town, you can use this new feature to check for excessive heat warnings or even whether a monsoon storm is estimated to hit during your commute home, all while also looking at your customizable list of cameras and traffic alerts.

This is just the latest in a long line of features and options designed to help you be a more informed driver and to get from Point A to Point B safely and on time. If you haven't already, register for a free MyAZ511 account and download our 511 app for iOS and Android devices.

 

Bad weather day from 1917 reminds us to be prepared

Bad weather day from 1917 reminds us to be prepared

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Bad weather day from 1917 reminds us to be prepared

Bad weather day from 1917 reminds us to be prepared

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
July 26, 2019

This year's monsoon hasn't hit with anything too bad, at least so far, but it's always helpful to be reminded of how hazardous extreme weather can be.

According to The Associated Press, on this date in 1917 a 5-mile stretch of the Ajo Highway was reported washed out and the southern Arizona communities of Sasco and Silverbell were cut off as roads and bridges were destroyed. Also on that day, hail fell 6 inches deep in Flagstaff.

Whew – that's a bad weather day!

Now with the caveat that today's state highways are paved and built to stand up to savage weather, this bit of history shows that sometimes Mother Nature will pull out all the stops, including while you are driving.

That's why we are constantly reminding people to check the weather along their routes before hitting the road. If you encounter weather while driving, remember some common-sense safety tips:

  • Expect the unexpected. Have extra supplies, including a fully charged cellphone, drinking water and an emergency kit in case you experience an extended highway closure.
  • Before you drive, inspect your windshield wipers, and replace them if necessary.
  • When faced with low- or zero-visibility conditions, pull your vehicle off the road as far to the right as possible. Turn off your lights, set the parking brake and take your foot off the brake pedal. These steps reduce the chances that other drivers mistake your vehicle as the one to follow. As we always say, Pull Aside, Stay Alive!
  • Don't risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn't look deep. Water is a powerful force that should not be underestimated. Even a few inches of running water poses a serious risk.
  • Turn on your headlights while driving in heavy rain or snow.
  • Reduce your speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Our website has these and a plethora of other tips for any driving conditions you might encounter including snow and icerainstorms and dust storms. 

No one knows when we'll have another day like in 1917, but the least you can do is make sure you are prepared, just in case.

ADOT, Weather Service collaboration improves storm response

ADOT, Weather Service collaboration improves storm response

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT, Weather Service collaboration improves storm response

ADOT, Weather Service collaboration improves storm response

February 25, 2019

PHOENIX – As last week’s monster winter storm approached, leaders from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the National Weather Service watched conditions on traffic cameras along state highways and discussed how best to stage equipment and personnel while getting critical information to drivers.

A collaboration between the agencies that grew out of this storm will have a National Weather Service meteorologist stationed at ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center when significant storms threaten, sharing forecasts and helping inform decisions on where snowplows and other resources are needed most.

“This is a natural pairing of two agencies working together in the public’s interest,” said Brent Cain, director of ADOT’s Transportation Systems Management & Operations Division. “This will allow us to get information quickly about approaching weather so we can prepare to clear roads and advise the public even before the storms arrive.”

“We were talking about how we could work together to prepare for storms, and get the best information to drivers as quickly as possible, and the idea of collaborating just fell into place,” said Ken Waters, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS office in Phoenix.

The collaboration also will help ADOT public information officers provide critical information about how weather may affect travel along specific routes and what drivers can do about it, including delaying travel until the worst has passed.

With a major storm coming, highway conditions can change rapidly

With a major storm coming, highway conditions can change rapidly

I-17 101 traffic interchange

With a major storm coming, highway conditions can change rapidly

With a major storm coming, highway conditions can change rapidly

February 19, 2019

PHOENIX – With heavy rain and snow forecast across Arizona from Wednesday night through Thursday, drivers should slow down for safety and consider putting off travel as conditions can change quickly, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Because sections of highway in northern Arizona can close due to crashes and heavy snow during extreme winter storms, the safest option is always to wait out the storm before driving. It’s also the most-efficient decision, as 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.

Before deciding whether and when to travel, check weather reports and get the latest highway conditions by visiting ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, calling 511 or reviewing ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT). When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, our free app available at ADOTAlerts.com will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

ADOT crews are ready to plow snow and ice on highways, but it can still be hazardous to drive in a storm where visibility and road surface conditions can change quickly. Drivers can help out plow operators by never passing a snowplow that’s clearing a highway until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass.

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.

Make sure to slow 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.

For more winter-driving tips, visit azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

Don’t overestimate driving abilities as storms approach

Don’t overestimate driving abilities as storms approach

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Don’t overestimate driving abilities as storms approach

Don’t overestimate driving abilities as storms approach

February 4, 2019

PHOENIX – With snow and rain storms forecast across the state late tonight, it’s important to delay travel if possible, or prepare to spend extra time on the road.

Arizona Department of Transportation crews are ready to plow the roads and help keep them clear, but it can still be hazardous to drive in a storm where visibility and road surface conditions can change quickly.

Before deciding whether and when to travel, check weather reports and get the latest highway conditions by visiting ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, calling 511 or reviewing ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT). When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, our free app available at ADOTAlerts.com will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

If delaying travel isn’t possible, expect the unexpected by packing an emergency kit, including extra blankets, warm clothes, food and water, a fully-charged cellphone, and a first-aid kit in case you experience an extended highway closure.

Here are some other tips for this week’s unsettled weather:

  • Inspect windshield wipers and replace them if necessary; keep your gas tank at least three-quarters full.
  • Drive for conditions – slower speed, slower acceleration – and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
  • Don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look deep, and don’t drive around “Road Closed” signs. Even a few inches of running water poses a serious risk.
  • Never pass a snowplow. Always stay at least four vehicle lengths back as plowed snow can create a cloud that reduces visibility. If you can’t see the snowplow driver, there’s a good chance he can’t see you.

Get more winter-driving tips at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.