Dec 302010
 
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Once again, I wondered off for the last few days and got stuck by the weather in more than one way. The Arctic Oscillation is the big controlling factor right now. This was also a big factor last year.  I promise to get to that over the next few days in detail. While December has been unseasonably warm for Northern Arizona, Europe has been in the deep freeze and Australia has had snow.

Cozumel was chilly in the evenings for the last week, requiring at least a good fall jacket in the evenings. The snow on the East Coast creamed the US air travel systems. Planes and crews got stuck and couldn’t get out of the Northeast to service the rest of the country. That’s what happened to our air crew for our canceled flight.

I’ve driven up and down I-17 plenty of times, but yesterday was a bad one. We got stuck in the traffic around milepost 315 just before 1pm. We made it into Flagstaff a little after 6pm. The thing that kills me is that the roads just were not that back if you had chains, all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, it would have been a piece of cake. But, lots of the truckers don’t like to put them on because it’s a hassle and limits your speed. Lots of other folks think that all-weather tires mean you can maintain the posted speed limit on packed snow or slush.That led to plenty of cars and trucks in the ditch, semis spinning their tires as they slid down various slopes blocking lanes of traffic.(Speaking of I-17, Arizona road conditions can be found are AZ511.gov, or by calling 511 on your phone.)

In the Sierra Nevada, on I-80 for instance, chains, studded snow tires or 4-wheel drive is required and speed limits are changed to keep i-80 open and passable. We have a very nice chain up area at Stoneman Lake. Almost expertly place by the Department of Transportation at a level that is very often equal to where the snarl begins. So, you’ll notice a new survey to the upper right. Should DOT and the Highway Patrol require folks to meet the chains, snow tires or all-wheel drive requirement?

As of 7am, it looks like the snow has tapered off quite a bit around all of the Northland. There is still more on the way. Depending on exact location, we could get another 2-8 inches. After the weather moves out, expect very cold conditions with overnight lows at or below zero.

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