As the state braces for its first round of inclement weather this winter, forecasters have issued various advisories — including an ice storm warning, winter storm warning or winter storm watch — for Thursday and Friday.
Much of central Arkansas, including Faulkner County, is scheduled to be under a winter storm warning from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday.
The National Weather Service says the first wintry precipitation is expected to come in the form of freezing rain and sleet in the northwest corner of the state Thursday morning. By day’s end, sleet and snow is expected to have moved into the region.
Weather service meteorologist John Robinson said freezing rain and sleet will still be seen, at that time, in other parts of northwest Arkansas, as well as parts of north central Arkansas, and into the Ouachita Mountains region.
Snow and sleet is expected to be seen in northwest Arkansas and parts of the north central area of the state on Friday morning. At the same time, freezing rain and sleet are likely from the Ouachita Mountains to northeast Arkansas. The wintry precipitation is expected to move into areas of central Arkansas, Robinson said.
Into the late afternoon hours Friday, snow and sleet will continue to be seen in much of northern Arkansas and into the Arkansas River Valley. Freezing rain and sleet is expected to be seen across the central region of the state. The same wintry mix is also expected to extend as far south as a line from Camden to Monticello, Robinson said.
Chances for all wintry precipitation are expected to decrease, and end, from the northwest to the southeast region, between the afternoon and evening hours Friday.
Another round of wintry weather is expected Saturday night and into Sunday. Robinson said the system is expected to begin as snow in the northern region with freezing rain and sleet seen elsewhere.
Into the Sunday afternoon and evening hours, the precipitation is expected to switch to freezing rain and sleet in most areas, except for rain in the southeast area of the state.
Current forecast models indicate snow and sleet totals should fall between 3 and 5 inches in the northwest region, with 1 to 4 inches being the most common across northern Arkansas. Robinson said the snow is expected to be on top of about 1/10 to 1/4-inch of freezing rain, although 1/2-inch of freezing rain could be seen in some areas.
Freezing rain totals are expected to fall between 1/4 and 3/4 inches in the area from the Ouachita Mountains to between Little Rock and Greers Ferry, and into northeast Arkansas. Robinson said ice totals will be lower moving further south.
Wind is expected with much of the anticipated freezing rain, which Robinson said could create problems for power lines in areas where ice accumulations are significant.
Forecasters indicated there have been few changes in models since Tuesday, however, later forecasts could shift.
In Conway, city engineer Ronnie Hall said the city’s two sand spreaders and four snow plows are being prepared while “we continue to monitor the weather.”
Typically, an accumulation of ice means that Salem Road will be closed where it goes up and over Cadron Ridge, Hall said. Sand will be spread as necessary on the hills at College Avenue and Country Club Road and Prince Street. The city may also spread sand on steep parts of Harkrider Street and Arkansas 25 near Blaney Hill Road as necessary if the state highway department can’t get to them quick enough.
The county will be acting in a support role for the county’s emergency responders and volunteer firemen, and county road shop workers have been staging equipment so they can respond as needed.
County road foreman Glen Willhite said that the expected ice will be preceded by rain, meaning that any salt pre-treatment of hilly stretches of road would be washed away.
Anyone encountering road problems — like downed trees or power lines — should call 9-1-1, Willhite said, and dispatchers will get word to appropriate utility or emergency workers to clear the road, with assistance from the county’s equipment as necessary.
Conway police spokesperson La Tresha Woodruff said police department officials will meet with Conway Fire Department officials Thursday to discuss response plans for possible inclement weather.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb contributed to this article.)
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories, log on to thecabin.net.)