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Winter storm turns roads slick, prompts school closings

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published January 15, 2013 at 6:33 a.m. Updated January 15, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.

traffic-was-backed-up-eastbound-on-finanicial-centre-parkway-due-to-tuesdays-winter-storm

Traffic was backed up eastbound on Finanicial Centre Parkway due to Tuesday's winter storm.

Winter storms hit Little Rock, delay traffic

Area residents were greeted again with winter weather on Tuesday morning. After a brief mix of snow and sleet hit the city, the weather picked back up around noon, causing traffic delays and complications. (By David Harten)
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Jan. 15 winter storm in Little Rock

Jan. 15 winter storm in Little Rock.

3 p.m. update

— A wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain delivered an unexpected array of slick conditions to Little Rock Tuesday, forcing schools and businesses to dismiss early and turning travel treacherous across the metro area.

Ice storm warnings and winter weather advisories had been issued early Tuesday for parts of Arkansas, but the greater impacts were expected in the southeast quarter of the state. The advisories were later extended further into central Arkansas, including Little Rock.

A mix of sleet and freezing rain began coating roadways there before noon, prompting numerous offices, schools and businesses to close for the day. Click here for the complete list of closings.

Roadways in the city ranged from slushy but passable to icy and extremely slick in the early afternoon. Later, temperatures rose and slushy and icy roadways gave way to wet ones.

At 2 p.m., traffic was crawling along Interstate 630's eastbound lanes in west Little Rock. John Barrow Road was blocked completely about then when cars became stuck on its bridge over I-630. The slush there froze into a slick sheet that had tires spinning but vehicles stalled.

Traffic on Markham Street, meanwhile, was inching along with numerous reports of slide-offs, stalled vehicles and fender benders. There was no immediate word on whether any of the wrecks around the city involved injuries.

By 3 p.m., however, Markham had cleared and traffic was moving without difficulties.

But slick conditions remained a problem around the state as the day continued, officials said.

The Arkansas Department of Highways and Transportation reported on its website just after 3 p.m. that interstates in the Little Rock area were still icy. Many of the major southern Arkansas roadways had ice patches or slush while highways north of Little Rock were snowy.

National Weather Service Meteorologist John Robinson said the storm has begun to decrease in western parts of the state, while east Arkansas still has several hours of freezing precipitation ahead.

"In general, the northern third of the state should see snow, with some sleet mixed in at times; the central third should see mainly sleet and snow, with a little freezing rain mixed in at times; and the southern third should have mainly freezing rain and sleet, with a little snow mixed in at times," he said in a news release.

The wintry mix should be entirely in the east by 5 or 6 p.m. and exiting the state by midnight, Robinson said, however any remaining moisture on the roads this evening in the southern half of the state is expected to refreeze.

TRAFFIC

Several main roads in west Little Rock are at a standstill as ice and sleet continue to accumulate.

The North Little Rock Police Department cautioned drivers shortly after 12:30 p.m. to avoid the Main Street overpass at I-40 due to slick conditions.

An ArkansasOnline reporter also says that traffic on Financial Centre Parkway and Shackleford Road are mostly at a standstill as of the noon hour. Multiple vehicle accidents have been reported in west Little Rock as well.

For more road information, visit the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department's website and follow ArkansasOnline for continual updates.

10:20 a.m. update

Winter weather advisories have extended into central Arkansas, including the Little Rock area.

Precipitation this morning has been a mixture of freezing rain and sleet, mixed with snow in some areas. Driving problems are expected in the areas under advisories and warnings.

The weather service said the precipitation will increase in coverage throughout the morning with thunder at times.

The wintry mix should decrease this afternoon in west part of the state, while east Arkansas could see precipitation into the evening hours.

6:30 a.m. update

Parts of southeast Arkansas will be under an ice storm warning Tuesday as another storm capable of producing wintry weather moves through the region.

Arkansas, Bradley, Calhoun, Cleveland, Desha, Drew and Lincoln counties are under the warning from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The National Weather Service says a "significant accumulation" of more than 1/4 inch is possible there.

"Primary impacts will be to trees and power lines," the agency said in a statement. "Ice accumulation on such surfaces will approach three tenths of an inch, which will likely down some trees or power lines easier than normal thanks to saturated grounds."

A winter weather advisory covers counties north and west of the warning area. Freezing rain of up to two-tenths of an inch is possible in the advisory area.

WEATHER CLOSINGS

Click here for the latest weather-related closings.

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Displaying 1 - 1 of 1 total comment

Felina says... January 15, 2013 at 1:05 p.m.

Great eff'n job, weather forcasters.

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