You May Never Need Snow Chains in Arizona. Until You Do.

While places around the country are beginning to see their first snowfall, some spots in Arizona are still waiting for the fall leaves to...well, fall!

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You may need tire chains when driving through certain parts of Arizona. But will you be fined if you drive without them? // Canva
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For the most part, Arizona is a sunshine capital. Even still, there are parts of the Grand Canyon state that experience snow every year. This makes for some great places to go skiing or snow tubing.

Arizona Breaks a Snowfall Record

Last January, Flagstaff got more snow than anywhere else in the nation. As the students at NAU can attest, some places in Northern Arizona saw more than two feet of snowfall over a two-day period.

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Be sure to carry things like tire chains if you go to Mount Lemmon or other snowy places in Arizona. // Canva
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Ultimately, Flagstaff recorded the 25th largest snow event in its history, which broke the record for a single day of snow accumulation. In the end, the Flagstaff Airport measured 30 inches of snow, more than doubling their 45-year record.

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What's Next

While places around the state like Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and even Tucson get at least an annual dusting of snow, some parts get hit with a significant amount of snow.

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Even in Arizona, some of the mountain roads can become treacherous. // Canva
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It helps to be prepared for snow and icy conditions especially if you plan to visit any of these places.

  • Flagstaff sits at around 7,000 feet in elevation and receives around 75 inches of snow from October to April.
  • Arizona Snowbowl, just outside of Flagstaff, is one of Arizona's leading places for winter activities, with one of the best ski locations in the state.
  • The White Mountains in eastern Arizona can get a lot of snow.
  • Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, can get up to 180 inches of snow every year.

What You Should Know Before Heading to the Snow in Arizona

It's generally safe to drive in Arizona if it snows, just make sure you're prepared ahead of time. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has some advice.

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Be sure to carry supplies, including a first aid kit, food and blankets in your car if you plan to go through possible snowy conditions in Arizona. // Canva
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Before you head out, fill your gas tank, and make sure you carry supplies like food, water, coats, and blankets with you.

Keep your cellphone fully charged and let someone know where you'll be, and when to expect your return. Be sure to check the forecast, so you know what you're getting into.

Can Drivers be Fined for Not Driving with Snow Chains on their Tires?

Some parts of Arizona, like mountain passes, could require you to drive with snow chains on your tires.  Unlike Washington and Colorado, where failure to use snow chains can result in a fine of up to $500, plus a few extra service charges, Arizona is different.

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Know before you go // Canva
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While Arizona doesn't currently enforce such fines, you may not be able to drive in certain places and may even be turned back under certain conditions if you don't have snow chains for your tires.

ADOT recommends doing a little research before you head out. Visit Arizona Traveler Information, download the AZ 511 app, or dial 511 for the latest road and weather conditions.

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