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story.lead_photo.caption Rick Mosman (left) and Derek Henson install a salt bed on a Benton County Road Department truck Friday in Bentonville as they prepare for ice and snow expected to move in late Saturday and into today - Photo by Charlie Kaijo

Northwest Arkansas residents prepared Saturday for a bout of winter weather, with up to 3 inches of sleet and snow expected in some places by tonight, while central and southern parts of the state face a chilly day of scattered thunderstorms.

The weather is part of a system that forecasters said Saturday was barreling across Kansas and Missouri headed for the East Coast.

Northwest Arkansas is on the southern fringe of the storm, said Pete Snyder, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa. Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis could see as much as 5 inches of snow from this system, he said.

In the state's southern region, Sean Clarke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North j1

Little Rock, said thunderstorms were likely Saturday night along the border with Louisiana, but the rainfall was not expected to add to the flood risk.

Even without the added precipitation, riverside towns like Camden in south Arkansas and areas along the Mississippi River remain under flood warnings from previous rains. Camden's flood warning is in effect until Friday, according to the weather service.

Little Rock marathon runners are likely to get wet today. Clarke said showers are expected throughout the day, with total rainfall of under half an inch. The high today is forecast at 42 degrees, according to the weather service.

The real cold from the weather system will arrive Monday morning, Clarke said.

The high temperature for southern and central Arkansas is forecast in the mid- to upper 30s Monday, Clarke said. North Arkansas' lows are expected in the teens and single digits, with wind chill factors below zero.

An area stretching roughly from Crawford County northeast to Baxter County was under a winter weather advisory late Saturday and into today.

The weather service's website for the northwest region reported a chance of occasional rain and sleet between midnight and 3 a.m. today, changing to occasional snow until noon.

Snyder said the snow should be out of Benton and Washington counties around noon today.

The high temperature is forecast at about 30 degrees in Fayetteville with north winds gusting as high as 20 mph. The low tonight was listed at around 8 degrees, Snyder said.

"The last few systems have been to the north of us, but we still got the cold air from them," Snyder said. "This one will be no different."

Caleb Jones of Bella Vista was at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in north Bentonville about noon Saturday stocking up on "the basics" before the weather changed. He said he was planning to make some chili, a warm meal for a cold day.

Road departments in the state's northwest spent Friday and Saturday preparing for the wintry mix.

Jay Frasier, who oversees the Benton County Road Department, said crews spread magnesium chloride on roadways Friday. He said the mixture stays on road surfaces when it rains. Bridges and hills were priorities, Frasier said.

"We hope whatever comes through will be out quick so we can get it cleaned up. ... We hope we don't have anything come, but we will be ready if it does," he said.

Terry Gulley, director of Fayetteville Transportation Services, said city road crews would begin checking bridges about 3 a.m., looking for slick spots on them or other parts of roadways. The city will have about 20 people working in shifts and have 11 to 12 trucks on the roads, he said.

"We'll be prepared for when it switches over" from rain to snow, he said.

Charles Ward, Washington County's road superintendent, said trucks will be designated to spread gravel on rural roads. Washington County doesn't use salt or other methods to melt snow and ice, he said.

Ward said he has employees on call for weather emergencies. He said it takes about 15 minutes to put a gravel spreader on a truck bed. The county typically has six chip trucks, and another nine fitted with snowplows. Road-graders are also used to clear roadways.

Frankie Guyll, Rogers' street supervisor, was taking the weather forecast in stride.

"So far, it has been a pretty good winter temperature-wise," he said. "There's been no snow to speak of. But it's still winter."

Information for this article was contributed by Clara Turnage of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 03/03/2019

Print Headline: NW Arkansas braces for cold, snow, sleet

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