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Snow plow drivers await call to action in northern Arizona

(KTAR Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX -- The season's first snowfall has already come and gone in northern Arizona, but the bulk of winter weather is yet to come and road workers are ready for the challenge.

George Garcia is among the 450 snow plow operators who drives thousands of miles each winter for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"So far the weather service says expect a normal winter which means I'm going to be busy," he said.

Garcia has seen just about everything on the open road during the winter but one thing remains constant: crashes, brought on by people driving too fast for the conditions and tailgaters.

Drivers unprepared for the conditions also is a concern.

ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said Arizona drivers can leave warm temperatures in the Valley and find themselves driving on ice and snow up north.

"Make sure you have extra blankets, clothing, food, flashlights, water with you. You also need snow tires, tire chains or snow cables," Nintzel said.

Nintzel said the department spent almost $9 million keeping the roads clear last winter. This year's budget is between $4 million and $8 million.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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