Kay Ellen Wilkerson of Fayetteville walks her dog Calli along Skyline Drive under ice-covered trees in Fayetteville on Monday, January 30, 2023. A winter storm brought ice and sleet making the morning commute difficult. (NWA Democratic Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Parts of central and northeastern Arkansas, including Little Rock, are under an ice storm warning, officials said on Monday. A winter weather warning is in effect for most of the rest of the state.
An ice storm warning is used to describe weather conditions in which at least a quarter of an inch of ice is forecast, said Colby Pope, a meteorologist with the North Little Rock Weather Service.
"A quarter of an inch really hits that threshold where the effects of ice are really amplified and we can see disruptive weather behavior like damage to power lines or damage to trees," he said.
Ice could build up across much of Arkansas, with up to a half inch or more of ice forecast in the central third of the state as of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said in a tweet.
Just before 10:30 am. m. On Monday, the Weather Service said the ice storm warning was extended westward to include most locations between the Interstate 40 and Interstate 30 corridors in west-central Arkansas.
If temperatures drop to zero or below, freezing rain or sleet could be seen in parts of northern and central Arkansas through Monday afternoon, according to a weather bureau report.
Pope said Arkansasans should expect winter to come in two waves and that the state is currently in the first wave, with travel affected in some areas.
The first wave is expected to last until Monday night and a break in the rain is forecast for Tuesday morning, forecasters said.
Most of the ice buildup is expected to come with the second wave, which is expected to enter the state on Tuesday afternoon and evening, according to a weather bureau report.
"A large portion of central Arkansas could see a quarter to half centimeter ice buildup with the second wave," Pope said.
He said areas with a winter weather warning should expect ice to form less than a quarter of an inch thick, but that could still affect road conditions.
Pope said parts of northern Arkansas could see snow or sleet this week.
He warned Arkansas residents to be aware that the heavy, wet snow seen recently in parts of the state could exacerbate the effects of that weather. “That means your trees are weaker and more likely to fall, and more likely to experience sporadic power outages,” Pope said.
Most of the ice should have melted by Wednesday night as temperatures rise above freezing and rain returns to the state, he said.
“People still need to be careful when disembarking on Wednesday and Thursday as there may be fallen trees. People should be aware of that," Pope said.
The winter weather should last until this Wednesday morning. Travel impacts are likely on Monday, the Tulsa Weather Service said.
Ice patches have been reported on most major highways and roads in northern and western Arkansas, according to idrivearkansas.com.
"Additionally, parts of northern Arkansas may see up to an inch of sleet/snow accumulation," the report said.
Authorities cited icy roads when they reported a fatal accident in Benton County.
Lieutenant Shannon Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the Benton County Sheriff's Office, said a van carrying equipment spun out of control Monday morning and overturned on Guyll Ridge Road, east of Avoca. The driver died, Jenkins said.
The accident was weather related, he said. The name of the dead person was not immediately released.
The special education districts of Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County announced Tuesday that they would use alternative teaching methods or distance learning for classes.
Events, activities and games scheduled after school on Monday and Tuesday were canceled or postponed due to bad weather, officials said.
The three central Arkansas school districts said officials will continue to monitor the weather before making a decision Wednesday on how students will be taught.
Little Rock County issued a press release asking students and teachers to bring their electronic devices home to do work on Monday.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus and the UA-Pulaski Technical College campus announced that they will close on Tuesday.
UA-PTC faculty were given the freedom to host their classes online and hybrid, and move their face-to-face classes online.
Cabot Public Schools announced that they will be closed on Tuesday and students will transition to virtual learning.
The Sheridan School District has canceled in-person classes for Tuesday and schools will use an alternative method of teaching, the district said in a press release Monday afternoon.
Gentry School District students are also learning remotely on Tuesday.
The Searcy School District will be closed on Tuesday.
The Bentonville School District announced on Twitter a snow day on Monday for students and staff, and the Fayetteville School District will transition to a distance learning day.
The Springdale School District also declared a snow day.
The Rogers School District buildings are closed today. Students were due to leave school today, but according to a Twitter post, all of the district's professional development programs will now be conducted online.
Arkansas Tech University in Russellville will also transition to virtual courses and surgeries starting at 1:00 pm. The school said in a statement on Monday.
But schools in the Russellville School District will be closed on Tuesday as distance learning is not planned, according to a press release.
The day will start on May 26, according to the press release.
Officials said district schools will also close two hours early on Monday due to bad weather and buses will run at the early departure time.
Arkansas State University at Jonesboro canceled all on-campus classes on Tuesday and will close its offices on Tuesday.
The Studentenwerk is open from 8 am to 8 pm. m. at 8 p.m. for those who live on campus, and the cafeteria is open for brunch on Tuesdays.
On-campus classes on Monday night were also canceled and most campus facilities will close by 4 pm, the school said.
SUPPLY AND PREPARATION OF ROADS
Entergy has begun preparing for the winter weather by deploying crews, equipment and supplies in areas of the state that are likely to be hardest hit, according to a press release on Monday.
Officials said scouts, vegetation crews, electricians and others will be on hand to help in the event of a power outage.
"Additional resources have also been requested from other energy companies to support each other," the statement read.
According to the press release, half an inch of ice can increase the weight of a tree branch by up to 30 times, causing even the smallest branches to bend or break, falling into power lines and causing a power outage. .
Ice on power lines can also create additional weight, causing them to sag or stretch, which can lead to power outages, officials said.
Road conditions are another issue.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has activated the Arkansas National Guard's winter weather support teams, the National Guard said Monday.
Each team is made up of five members who will help stranded drivers, according to a press release.
Arkansas State Police Troop L at Lowell and Troop H at Fort Smith are supported by two teams from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, officials said.
Troops from the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are ready to assist soldiers in Newport, Forrest City and Clarksville if weather conditions permit and state police determine the need.
"Teams are not authorized to recover private or commercial vehicles," the press release said.
"In addition to icy roads, one of our biggest ice concerns is ice buildup on trees and power lines, which can be very dangerous when placed over a road," the Arkansas Department of Transportation said in a statement on Twitter. on Monday.
The transportation department said it has chainsaw crews on standby to tend to trees and branches that affect travel.
The Pulaski County Department of Highways and Bridges said Monday afternoon that it will have standby crews and trucks and equipment ready to help improve conditions on elevated surfaces.
According to a press release, the department will have shift assignments in place for the necessary personnel, as well as all equipment for any possible plowing/mulching and clearing of debris such as trees.
The Little Rock Division of Public Works Operations is working 12-hour shifts until the bad weather clears. According to a press release, a large amount of sand and salt mixtures are required for city streets, and both large and small trucks are equipped with spreaders and plows.
According to Superintendent of Highways Jeff Crowder, crews from the Washington County Department of Highways began spreading gravel on rural roads around 3 am.
On Monday morning, he said the forecast of more freezing rain meant road conditions were likely to deteriorate later that day.
"Right now the roads are much better than they were at 3 am when they mobilized us," Crowder said around 9 am. “The main roads are covered with ice. We expect more weather this afternoon, drizzle and freezing rain, so whatever we have now is only going to make things worse.
Crowder said the county could use some road de-icer this afternoon if conditions are right. Otherwise, it's about spreading gravel on the busiest roads and in known trouble spots.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office compiles a list of road closures, accidents and other weather-related information on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page.
Benton County Road crews began treating county roads with salt and sand at 5:00 pm. on Sunday, said Melody Kwok, the county's communications manager. More salt and sand will be thrown in today, he said.
Little Rock City facilities will be closed on Tuesday. The February 7 meeting to set the agenda for the City Council has been cancelled, but the board will meet as scheduled. This meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm. February 7 at the University Park Center, 6401 W. 12th St.
The Little Rock Zoo and the Clinton Presidential Center, including the 42 Bar and Table and the Clinton Museum Store, will remain closed on Tuesday.
Clinton National Airport was open and operational as of 5:50 pm. m. On Monday, however, authorities delayed 16 flights and canceled eight flights, according to a press release.
Officials said they expected more cancellations.
The airport said its airfield staff will begin pre-treating the main runway and taxiways before the freezing rain starts. According to the announcement, personnel will be on duty during the storm to continue de-icing the airfield and customer parking areas.
The North Little Rock Sanitation Department will run its regular routes, while the Parks Department and Community Center will delay opening until 8:00 am. Tuesday.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers has canceled the Arkansas River Master Plan public workshop scheduled for Tuesday at Faith Baptist Church, 5600 Camp Robinson Road.
The public can continue to participate in the workshops scheduled from 3 pm to 7 pm. m. Monday at the Russellville Local Office, 1598 Lock and Dam Road, and from 3pm. m. at 7:00 p.m. February 2 at the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission Delta Rivers Nature Center, 1400 Black Dog Drive in Pine Bluff.
More information is availableon here.
The City of Bryant has rescheduled its Tuesday council meeting at 6:30 pm. February 6th and city offices are closed on Tuesday.
The Saline County Courthouse and all county offices will be closed on Tuesday.
Benton County Judge Barry Moehring announced at 6:30 am. m. that county offices and district courts are closed today. Jury selection was due to begin today on the third trial of Mauricio Alejandro Torres, 53, a Bella Vista man accused of killing his 6-year-old son in 2015.
The opening of the Washington County offices was initially delayed until 10 am. m., but District Judge Patrick Deakins later decided to close the courthouse for the day.
The Quorum Court County Public Services Committee meeting scheduled for Monday night was canceled, Deakins said, as was a meeting of the Washington Water Authority scheduled for Monday morning.
The City of Little Rock will open an emergency shelter at the Dunbar Community Center at 7:00 pm. Monday.
The downtown property at 1001 W. 16th St. is operated by The Van. The van will conduct coordinated pickups across the area on Monday in partnership with Park Hill Christian Church. For transportation to the shelter, call (501) 955-3444.
Little Rock Animal Services recommends that pet owners bring their pets inside during extremely cold weather.
If that's not an option, dogs should have warm, dry bedding in a weather-resistant kennel, according to a press release. Free-ranging cats should also have adequate shelter.
The water must be cleaned and changed periodically to prevent it from freezing, says the publication.
Officials also said the city's Department of Animal Services and the Little Rock Police Department will respond to complaints about animals not receiving proper care during a winter weather event.
Information for this article was provided by Mike Jones of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
This chart from the National Weather Service shows total ice forecasts across the state as of Wednesday morning. (National Weather Service/Twitter)