Several inches of snow expected for Bisbee, Sierra Vista today
BISBEE — Motorists are urged to use caution in southern Cochise County this afternoon as a storm system is expected to deposit several inches of snow in both Sierra Vista and Bisbee.
As temperatures continue to drop, early morning showers will likely turn to blowing snow, depositing three to six inches at Sierra Vista’s elevation level and six to 12 inches in higher elevations, including Bisbee, throughout the afternoon, according to the latest winter storm warning from the National Weather Service in Tucson.
Rainfall early in the day will turn to snow toward the afternoon as the storm system moves through the state, said Meteorologist Jeff Davis.
“It will be a bit of a mix at first, but once that cold front moves in, the snowfall elevation will drop,” Davis said.
The storm system responsible for the snow passed over northern California on Tuesday and will impact most of Arizona on Wednesday before continuing on to the southern plain states of Kansas and Oklahoma.
“The main part of the system is going to move to our north, but we’ll catch the tail end of it,” Davis said.
It’s been an active, but not unusual season for snow in southern Cochise County, Davis said.
Two more systems will brush by later in the week, on Thursday night and Saturday night, though as of Tuesday afternoon, neither was expected to bring much snow, if any.
Bisbee’s director of Public Works, Thomas Klimek, said the city is ready to address any problems with the roads that normally accompany these weather conditions.
“Tombstone Canyon would probably be our biggest concern, especially in the shadow areas, where the sun doesn’t ever get to it,” Klimek said.
Without the sun’s rays to melt away the ice, portions of Tombstone Canyon can remain frozen for hours.
The department typically addresses this by spreading crushed asphalt onto the affected areas to improve vehicles’ ability to grip the road, he said.
“We also have the West Boulevard turnoff at State Route 80. Those are pretty slippery slopes right in that area. ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) maintains it. When we have a real heavy snowfall, depending if we have freezing or not, ADOT may choose to close those off-ramps,” Klimek said.
In other areas of Bisbee, such as San Jose and Warren, snowy weather doesn’t usually result in many issues for motorists.
“Sometimes on Bisbee Road we’ll have a few patches [of ice], in which case we’ll put some salt down,” he said.
A couple inches of snow doesn’t typically result in any issues for Sierra Vista’s Public Works Department, said department director Scott Dooley.
“We’re more concerned about any ice that might occur on the roads, especially on the intersections and the bridges,” Dooley said.
These areas are monitored by department personnel and, should they ice up, are covered in sand to help vehicles maintain a grip on the road.
The Arizona Department of Transportation will be keeping an eye on the highways and portions of interstate that pass through Cochise County throughout the day, said spokesman C.T. Revere.
“Particular areas of focus will be Interstate 10 at Texas Canyon, which is the highest elevation on I-10 in Cochise County, and State Route 80 near the Mule Pass Tunnel outside of Bisbee, also because of the elevation,” Revere said in an email.
ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center will work with the Arizona Department of Public Safety to respond to any problem areas as the storm passes through.
“Interstate 10 has the highest priority, along with State Routes 90 and 92 in Sierra Vista because of the volume of traffic that routinely depends on those highways,” he said.
Some general advice for motorists who find themselves on the road in snowy or icy conditions include slow braking and accelerating to avoid sliding, keeping extra distance between vehicles and keeping an eye out for black ice, particularly in shaded areas.
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