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story.lead_photo.caption Fredrick Williams Jr. walks across the Clinton Presidential Center Bridge on Wednesday afternoon as fog shrouds the Arkansas River. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

A severe winter storm projected to hit the Midwest and mid-South this weekend will just be starting to grow when it passes through Arkansas tonight.

A bit of ice and a dusting of snow are possible in northeast Arkansas with much colder weather returning for the weekend, according to senior forecaster John Lewis of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.

Parts of the mid-South and Midwest are expecting up to several inches of snow, according to reports from Cleveland and Louisville, Ky. The storm will get worse the farther east it travels and will continually intensify as it turns into "something big," Lewis said.

"As it moves here, it's just kind of getting its act together," Lewis said, referring to Arkansas.

Any hazardous weather conditions in Arkansas likely will occur in the state's northeast, Lewis said, where up to one-tenth of an inch of ice is possible.

"If there's going to be a worry, that would be the part of the state I would watch," Lewis said.

Rain is expected throughout much of the state today, with a chance of it turning into freezing rain, or ice and snow overnight, he said.

If that happens, it'll be hard to apply sand and salt to keep roads clear, Blytheville Public Works Director Mark Key said.

The city has trucks ready with mixtures of sand and salt -- a combination intended to prevent ice from building up on roads -- but rain and wet pavement can wash it away or dilute it, thus making it less effective, Key said.

"As of right now, we're ready," he said.

Any accumulations should dissipate during the day Friday, when the forecast calls for sunshine and higher temperatures before colder weather returns for the weekend. Accumulations of ice are expected to be minor and concentrated on bridges and overpasses, Lewis said.

Forecasts for the state call for temperatures in the 50s, 60s or 70s today, but temperatures will drop significantly after dark with winds gusting as high as 20-30 mph.

Late tonight "colder air -- and I mean sharply colder air -- filters through the state," Lewis said. "It comes with a vengeance."

Lows overnight are expected to be in the teens, with highs Friday in the 30s and 40s, and much colder weather for the weekend.

Lewis said the cold patterns that have hit the nation this winter are coming from "bubbles of Arctic air" flowing out of western Canada. Another cold pattern is expected to enter the state by Tuesday. Forecasting models show little precipitation with that wave but lower-than-average temperatures.

"That's the going pattern right now," Lewis said, referring to the bouts of cold.

Metro on 01/11/2018

Print Headline: Wintry blast to bring mostly cold to state; Snow, ice likely to bypass Arkansas

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