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story.lead_photo.caption A bundled-up pedestrian hurries across West Markham Street in downtown Little Rock on Friday morning. - Photo by John Sykes Jr.

Forecasters scaled back predictions Friday on a winter storm expected to move into Arkansas today, but they still anticipate snow in north Arkansas and heavy rain in the state's southeast, meteorologists with the National Weather Service said.

Joe Goudsward, a meteorologist with the weather service office in North Little Rock, said a winter storm warning is in effect for north Arkansas, between Johnson and Jackson counties and extending north to Missouri.

High-terrain areas in Arkansas' northern counties could receive as much a 5 inches of snow, but the majority of the area will get 2-4 inches, Goudsward said.

Southern Arkansas, particularly the southeast, is more likely to see rain than snow flurries and a flash flood warning is in effect until noon, according to Aaron Stevens, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Shreveport office.

El Dorado and the surrounding area could get 4-6 inches of rain today, whereas Texarkana and Hope can expect 2-3 inches, Stevens said. He encouraged people in those areas to exercise caution because rivers and streams are likely to flood or rise considerably.

The rain should dissipate by the evening, Stevens said. A strong cold front will follow, dropping temperatures from the 40-degree low expected today into the low 20s by Sunday evening. The cold front will remain in south Arkansas into next week, Stevens said.

"Sunday morning on your way to church you're going to want to be careful," Stevens said. "Wherever it's wet and it's getting cold, it could become icy."

Central Arkansas will see 2-3 inches of precipitation, mostly rain, throughout today with a chance of light snow, Goudsward said.

"The biggest impact will probably be travel," Goudsward said. "Roads will be slick. Bridges and overpasses could be icy in the warning area or wet. If you can, it's a good day to stay home."

Spokesman Danny Straessle of the Arkansas Department of Transportation said Friday that crews have treated all state highways between the Missouri state line and Interstate 40 with salt brine, a concentrated salt and water mixture that discourages ice formation by lowering the freezing point of water.

Salting that wasn't done Thursday was completed Friday, Straessle said. "Anywhere we thought pre-treatment was needed, we went on and did. We could have more crews pre-treating [today] depending on what the system brings."

Straessle said crews have cleaned out drainage systems in south Arkansas to help ensure that water on roadways can flow off the pavement.

"Typically what we see with a lot of rain is the usual suspects in our rural areas being most affected," Straessle said.

Road crews will be on standby near flood-prone areas to block off roadways if necessary, he said.

"What happens when we have a full-on assault of winter weather is snow in the north, a mix in the central area and ice, or in this case rain, in the south," Straessle said. "That's pretty much what we have here."

Pine Bluff Fire Chief Shauwn Howell said his department has cleared drainage ditches in case of flash flooding, but he doesn't expect another high-water event like the one Sept. 8 when more than 3 feet of water rushed into a fire station.

Howell said the Fire Department has repaired 80 percent to 90 percent of the damage from the September flooding. About 5 inches of rain fell in a short period that day, causing drainage ditches to fill and overflow.

"[Today's rain] won't have the same impact if it's constant throughout the day like predicted," Howell said. "As a result of the previous floods, we're taking all precautions."

Although southern Arkansas will see heavy rain, Stevens said the most concerning area from this storm system is east Texas, where 10-12 inches of rain are forecast.

"Most of the rivers we're looking at that we're concerned about are not in Arkansas, they're in east Texas," he said. "There's a major flood event going on there."

Metro on 12/08/2018

Print Headline: Snow still forecast in state's north

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