Travel and weather updates from across the state throughout the holiday weekend.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to use the non-emergency line to report fireworks violations instead of calling 911.
Via a Twitter post, the Sheriff’s Office encouraged people to call the non-emergency line at 602-876-1011.
The Sheriff’s Office said an influx of 911 calls for fireworks could delay responses for anyone dealing with a real emergency.
Meanwhile, for residents who own a pet, the Arizona Humane Society encourages owners to avoid fireworks trauma by staying mindful of their animal’s whereabouts at all times and not leaving them unattended outside.
The Humane Society also recommended that owners keep their pets away from fireworks displays and distract them from loud noises by turning on the radio or TV. The group offers a complete list of pet safety tips.
2:30 p.m. Saturday: Authorities remind residents that celebratory gunshots are illegal
With time winding down until new year’s celebrations, authorities in Arizona are reminding residents that it is illegal to shoot a gun into the air.
Both Phoenix Police and Peoria Police tweeted reminders Saturday that shooting a gun into the air is a Class 6 felony.
This restriction is due to a state law known as “Shannon’s Law.” In 2000, Arizona lawmakers made it illegal to negligently fire a weapon within a municipality after a 14-year-old girl, Shannon Smith, was killed by a stray bullet a year earlier.
The Arizona Republic reported in 2019 that authorities have gone door-to-door to educate residents about Shannon’s Law ahead of the holidays when celebratory gunfire might take place.
Those who violate the law could face a presumptive term of one year in prison or an aggravated term of two years in prison.
1 p.m. Saturday: Year ends with another high pollution advisory
The Maricopa County Air Quality Department has issued a high pollution advisory for Saturday as dust and smoke climb to unhealthful levels across Phoenix.
The advisory means a ban on leaf-blowers and other landscaping equipment, as well as off-road vehicle travel. It also means Saturday is a no-burn day. Residents should not start wood fires in fireplaces, chimeneas or open pits.
High dust and smoke levels create serious health risks for people with asthma, COPD and other respiratory ailments. The smallest dust particles can invade lungs and even get into the bloodstream. Fireworks and firecrackers often increase the smoke concentration.
The county offers more information here.
A winter storm moving through late Saturday and Sunday could help improve air quality.
Noon Saturday: Fog, rain and snow in Flagstaff
If you’re heading north to ring in the new year, dress warm and prepare for possibly hazardous driving conditions as another winter storm sweeps across Arizona.
The National Weather Service reported fog around Flagstaff Saturday morning and the Arizona Department of Transportation posted photos of rain mixed with snow on Coconino County freeways.
The weather service has posted a winter storm warning for areas above the Mogollon Rim starting early Sunday, with areas of heavy snow forecast above 6,000 feet. The warning says travel could become difficult to impossible and blowing snow could reduce visibility to near zero at times.
A chance of showers will linger all day Saturday, with highs in Flagstaff barely reaching 40 degrees. Snow is expected to increase after midnight, ushering in the new year.
8 p.m. Friday: Loop 303 to be closed through January
Freeway construction will cause closures on westbound stretches of Loop 303 starting next weekend, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
The first closure will take effect 4 a.m. Jan. 7 until 11 p.m. Jan. 8 between Interstate 17 and Lake Pleasant Parkway, according to ADOT.
Drivers should use alternate routes including westbound State Route 74 to southbound Lake Pleasant to connect to 303 past the closure, ADOT said.
A portion of 303 will also close 8 p.m. Jan. 13 until 5 a.m. Jan. 16 westbound between I-17 and Lake Pleasant, according to ADOT.
The I-17 off-ramps on Loop 303 will be limited to eastbound Sonoran Desert Drive, while the road’s westbound access on Sonoran Desert to northbound and southbound I-17 on-ramps will remain open, the department said.
ADOT also said there will be intermittent rolling closures on Loop 303 between I-17 and Lake Pleasant during weekdays between 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and 7 p.m.-9 p.m. through the end of January.
— Jose R. Gonzalez
11 a.m. Friday: Oak Hill Snow Play Area near Williams closed
The Kaibab National Forest Service tweeted Friday morning that the Oak Hill Snow Play Area, a recreational site about 14 minutes outside of Williams, is closed for public safety.
They said work is being done to “reduce hazardous fuels and mitigate wildfire risk.”
Other areas of the forest are open for winter recreation. For more information, visit the Forest Service’s web site.
— Ellie Willard
11 a.m. Friday: Intersection of Cooper and Elliot roads closed in Gilbert
On Friday morning, the Gilbert Police Department tweeted that the intersection of North Cooper and West Elliot roads in Gilbert will be closed until the end of the year.
“All traffic will be diverted at the nearest traffic signal in all directions. Please use alternate routes while in the area this weekend,” Gilbert police tweeted.
The department announced the closure just after 6 a.m. citing flooding due to a water leak
— Ellie Willard
10:10 a.m. Friday: Hermit Road near Grand Canyon closed, State Route 64 open
The Grand Canyon National park announced that Desert View Drive (State Route 64) between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View reopened after being closed most of the early morning. However, Hermit Road remains closed.
According to Grand Canyon National Park, Desert View Drive will close during and after snowstorms.
The national park says “during winter storms, travelers should expect winter driving conditions and some roadways may be temporarily closed while snow is cleared. Be prepared for slippery, snow covered roads and limited visibility. Drive with care. During the winter, road conditions can change rapidly.”
Travelers can call 928-638-7496 for recorded updates.
5:00 PM – MCSO urges residents to use non-emergency line to report fireworks violations
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has urged the public to use their non-emergency line to report fireworks violations instead of calling 911.
Via a Twitter post, the MCSO encouraged people to call their non-emergency line at (602)-876-1011.
The sheriff’s office said that an influx of 911 calls for fireworks could delay responses for anyone dealing with a real emergency.
For any residents who own a pet, the Arizona Humane Society has encouraged owners to avoid fireworks by staying mindful of their animal’s whereabouts at all times and not leaving them unattended outside.
The Humane Society also recommended that owners keep their pets away from firework displays and distract them from loud noises by turning on the radio or TV. A complete list of pet safety tips can be found here: https://www.azhumane.org/news/keep-pets-safe-while-ringing-in-the-new-year/