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Monday, December 22, 2014

The sun may be shining, but planning for winter weather is important

The winter holiday season is my favorite time of the year. The weather in Arizona is usually perfect – cool mornings, warming up nicely to the low to mid 70’s. People are in festive spirits.

Activities abound this time of year that encourage families to be together – parades, light shows, festivals … the list is endless. The season allows us to spend more time with our families and I love it. Seeing my four-year old experience things like snow, sledding, and ice skating, and watching her face light up doing something as simple as a tour of holiday lights is special.

Every year, we travel up to Flagstaff to experience the cooler weather, festivities, and—if we’re lucky--snow. As we plan our trip up north, we always check the weather forecast. Snow was not in the forecast this year. However, I still prepared for it, just in case.

Sure, it may seem kind of silly to pack for snow and ice in a place two hours away when you are wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops. Weather can change rapidly and one should always be prepared.

Snowy road from Jan. 2010 winter storm that affected nine
counties and six tribal nations in Arizona. Photo by: ADEM staff
If you are planning to take a trip in the car to a place that receives snow, make sure you have the necessary supplies. A winter vehicle emergency kit can make a difference in an emergency. A well-stocked kit should have food and water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a pocket knife, windshield scraper, blankets, extra cold weather clothes, matches, small tool kit, small shovel, sand or cat litter, plastic bags, jumper cables, tire chains, cell phone charger, battery powered radio, and a bright cloth that could be used as a flag.

Before you get into the car, check the weather conditions. Tune to local radio and television stations or “exercise” your National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio to get storm information.

Know the difference between a watch and a warning. A winter storm watch means a winter storm is possible in the area. A winter storm warning means the storm is heading your way. A blizzard warning means strong winds, blinding, wind-driven snow and dangerous wind chills are expected.

Start your trip out with a full tank of gas and maintain it at a half tank, in case you get caught in a storm and are forced to the side of the road.

Most people are excited when they are travelling somewhere fun. Be sure to take your time when driving in bad weather conditions.

If you have questions about road conditions, call 5-1-1 or go to

More tips to prepare for winter weather can be found online at AzEIN. The Arizona Department of Transportation has great information on dealing with snow and ice while driving.

We enjoyed our trip up to Flagstaff. We bundled up and saw some great light displays, and drank quite a bit of hot cocoa. We even went on a hike through the woods. No snow fell while we were there – we missed it by 10 days. We will plan another trip to play in the snow and we will definitely be prepared for the winter weather then too. 

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