JULY 10, 2013

“Know Before You Go!”

Visitors encouraged knowing seasonal conditions before visiting the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
Bookmark and Share

SPRINGERVILLE – Monsoon season has arrived in Arizona’s high country.  “Know Before You Go!” Yearly monsoons are always anticipated as a ‘good thing.’ However, monsoons can be dangerous if you are not aware of the dangers they can bring without much warning! The US Forest Service wants visitors to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNFs) to enjoy their time on the Forests, and encourages visitors planning a trip to the area to “Know Before You Go!” Check with the National Weather Service on what the weather outlook is for your time whether camping, hiking, or driving through the area, and always let someone know where you are going and the specific locations you plan to visit.

Campers should avoid low-lying areas, especially in any of the areas within the Wallow Fire burned area. “Even though it has been two years since the Wallow Fire occurred, flash flooding can occur within minutes and can carry large debris such as trees, logs, mud, and other large objects picked up along the way. It is important to anticipate when rain is predicted and to be aware of the alternate routes in and out of the area, especially within or near the burned area,” according to Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ Supervisor Jim Zornes. 

Never drive across a flooded road! Statistics clearly indicate the high risk of driving in and around flooded roads and low spots. In many cases, individuals attempt to drive through flooded roads only to be swept away by rushing waters. The rule is simple: if the road or its line markings cannot be seen, avoid driving through the water.

Flood Statistics:
§ As little as 1-foot of water can move most cars off the road.
§ Just 6” of fast-moving flood water can sweep a person off his or her feet.
§ Most flood-related deaths occur at night and are vehicular.
§ Urban and small stream flash floods often occur in less than 1-hour.

Turn Around, Don’t Drown website:  http://tadd.weather.gov/

Visitors are encouraged to be mindful of dead end roads, especially those up drainages and/or crossing streams, where rising waters could potentially trap them. Below are a few Questions and Answers to help the public to “Know Before You Go!”

Frequently asked questions:
What is a monsoon? A powerful wind, pounding rain, dangerous lightning, and blinding dust storms – welcome to the Arizona monsoon! 

When is monsoon season? Monsoon season generally runs two months and begins the first week of July through August but may run until the end of September. 

Question: How can I prepare?

Be aware of your surroundings, and “Look up, Down, and All Around;” make sure you watch out for stump holes, unstable trees, and roads that potentially may be washed out. If you see gates closed, they are closed for a good reason, usually for public safety.

Avoid crossing any moving water by foot, or by vehicle.

To avoid being struck by lightning, do not stand near trees or tall poles. Stay in your camper or vehicle if possible

Avoid lingering in areas that are prone to flooding, such as, low-lying areas and stream crossings.  The rains come swiftly and heavily.

Do not use a telephone if lightning is about.

Avoid OHVs, golf carts or other large metal equipment.

Dust devils are often associated with monsoons. Try to avoid being caught in one.

Visibility can be near zero when monsoon thunderstorms are raging. If driving in a dangerous storm, find somewhere to park your car safely.

If you pull over in your car to the side of the road, do not leave your lights on. Drivers with little or no visibility behind you may think you are still on the road and follow you. Smack!

If you are outside hiking or camping, be aware of quick wind shifts, quick cooling of temperature, and increasing wind velocity. These are signals for thunderstorm activity. If you are on a boat, get to land. During storms, do not huddle closely together with other people. Spread out.

Avoid wide-open areas.

If your hair starts to stand on end, that is a sign of electricity and you may be about to be struck by lightning. Drop to your knees and cover your head.

Pets can be afraid too! Try to comfort your pet; if your pet is afraid of thunder and lightning you may want to check with your veterinarian or the Humane Society for more advice on caring on your pet to prevent them running away during a storm.

Forest Service crews are constantly working to place signs alerting visitors about road and trail conditions; however, due to the large area and severity of damages after a storm, it is still best to check with a local Forest Service office before venturing off the main roads.

The ASNFs receive large rain events this time of year. For more information on road/trail conditions, contact one of the five local district offices or the ASNFs Forest Supervisor’s Office at (928) 333-4301 or go to their website: http://www.fed.usa.gov/asnf.  Forecast weather conditions can be found at the National Weather Service webpage http://www.nws.noaa.gov/. The ASNFs encourage any visitors to the area to call or stop any of their five Ranger Stations in Clifton, Alpine, Springerville, Lakeside or Heber-Overgaard. 

White Mountain visitors and locals are reminded that Stage II fire restrictions are in place on the ASNFs until enough precipitation is received and within the city limits of most northern Arizona communities. Additionally, fireworks are never allowed on National Forests. For more information about restrictions on public lands, call toll free 1-877-864-6985 or visit (and the NEW interagency website: (http://firerestrictions.us/az) created to inform residents and visitors about fire restrictions and closures across the South-west area. Also, fire information for NE Arizona can be found at www.311info.net) or by dialing 311 or 928-333-3412.

Forest and White Mountain visitors are encouraged to be fire safe and show their commitment to wildfire prevention by going online and taking Smokey’s pledge