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Wintry mix leaves highways slick across state

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published March 3, 2014 at 6:05 a.m. Updated March 3, 2014 at 8:26 a.m.


A driver assesses damage Monday, March 3, 2014, after a wreck on Interstate 30, west of University Avenue in Little Rock, involved multiple vehicles including four tractor-trailers and a state Highway Department sand truck.

Wintry mix coats LR roads with ice, sleet

A look at road conditions Monday morning between Stifft Station and downtown Little Rock. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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This screenshot from the Arkansas State Highways and Transportation Department shows road conditions across the state Monday morning.

A vehicle moves along an icy Markham Street in Little Rock Monday morning.

Traffic moves slowly on an icy Interstate 630 in North Little Rock Monday morning.

Crews work Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, at an accident on Interstate 30 between Alcoa and Benton roads in Benton.

An accident Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, on Interstate 30 at University Avenue in Little Rock sandwiches a car between tractor-trailers.

A wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain and snow turned conditions of Arkansas highways slick, making travel dangerous, leading dozens of schools to cancel classes and knocking out power for thousands.

The National Weather Service said about 2 inches of sleet fell in central Arkansas with points farther north getting that and then up to 3 inches of snow on top of it.

The Arkansas Department of Highway and Transportation at 10 a.m. reported some form of slick conditions coating highways across virtually the entire state. In the Little Rock area, ice was on all the major interstates. Elsewhere, sleet and snow was reported to be causing problems.

Only essential personnel were to report to state offices, and school districts across the state, including Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County, called off classes. Click here for a full list.

Entergy said crews were working at 10 a.m. to restore power to nearly 27,000 customers who lost electricity in the storm. More than 9,600 of those power failures were in Phillips County, and more than 5,600 were in Crittenden County.

The utility said about 2,600 crew members were working in the state to restore power.

A winter storm warning that had been in effect expired overnight and no further accumulating precipitation was expected. But the National Weather Service issued a wind-chill advisory for much of the state, noting values as low as 5 degrees below zero were possible in parts of Arkansas.

"A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills," the agency said in a statement. "This will result in frost bite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken."

The Salvation Army said it has opened a warming center at 1111 W. Markham St. and was expecting heavy traffic because some other resources, including the city's Day Resource Center, did not open Monday.

Despite the cold air, some improvements in road conditions were expected as the day continued. Temperatures across all but far southern Arkansas were expected to stay below freezing, but the clouds should clear and the sun will help melt icy areas, said Weather Service meteorologist Sean Clarke.

"That will help out an OK amount," he said, noting the winds Monday will help dry roadways too. "We can expect some gradual clearing."

Temperatures in the coming days will increase somewhat, reaching the mid-30s in central Arkansas Tuesday and 60 by Friday.

But that warm-up isn't necessarily the final end to Arkansas's long, cold winter.

"That would be nice," Clarke said. "It's hard to say for sure. But there could be some other chances [for colder air]. It looks like this pattern is going to hold tight for us. Not quite out of the woods yet."


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sdelong2501021514 says... March 3, 2014 at 11:55 a.m.

Please tell Stephen Thornton it is March 3rd, not February!

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