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More than 65,000 Arkansans remain without power Thursday after 3rd wave of winter storm

by Daniel McFadin, Remington Miller, Grant Lancaster | February 2, 2023 at 7:02 p.m.
A fallen tree blocks part of Ridgeway Drive off from Lee Avenue in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

As of 6:25 p.m. Thursday, Entergy Arkansas reported 36,943 customers without power. Jefferson County had the most outages on the Entergy map, with 9,388.

At the same time, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas reported 28,098 customers without power. The utility was reporting that Cleveland County had its most outages, with 3,578.

— Daniel McFadin

5:09 p.m.: Nearly 70,000 Arkansans remain without power Thursday after 3rd wave of winter storm

As of 5:05 p.m. Thursday, Entergy Arkansas reported 41,180 customers without power. Jefferson County had the most outages on the Entergy map, with 9,189.

At the same time, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas reported 28,351 customers without power. The utility was reporting that Cleveland County had its most outages, with 3,578.

— Daniel McFadin

3:25 p.m.: 3rd wave of winter storm knocks out power for thousands of Arkansans

A third wave of winter weather left at least 82,000 Arkansans without power on Thursday. 

And it's not quite over yet. Around noon, the National Weather Service in Little Rock extended the ice storm warning for nine counties in Southeast Arkansas, including Jefferson and Drew, to 2 p.m.

The weather service cited precipitation lingering where temperatures are struggling to get above freezing as the reason for the extension.

South Arkansas is also bearing the brunt of power outages.

As of 3 p.m. today, Entergy was reporting 45,701 customers without power across the state. That was down from a peak of roughly 53,000 earlier in the day, but almost double the total of about 25,000 reported at 6 a.m.

A group of other utilities, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, reported 33,491 customers without power as of 11:30 a.m.

The overwhelming number of Entergy customers without power are in the southern portion of the state. The counties with the most affected customers were Jefferson (8,323), Drew (6,890) and Ouachita (5,403).

Of the co-op customers, 18,213 were powerless in the C&L Electric Co-Op, along with 5,176 in the Ouachita Cooperative in Camden and 6,052 in the South Central Cooperative in Arkadelphia.

According to the utilities group, C&L Electric of Star City is the hardest hit system with about 85% (18,000) of its 21,399 members without service as of Thursday afternoon. Spokesperson Rob Roedl said the two other utilities' outages are also significant.  

Entergy spokesperson Brandi Hinkle and Roedel said they don't have an estimated time for restoration because the damage was still being assessed.

Roedel added that many of the co-op areas without service are sparsely populated.

"We've got a lot of trees and limbs that are falling onto power lines and other equipment," Hinkle said. "That's causing most of the outages because some places got close to a half an inch of ice."

Roedel said the Electric Cooperatives outages are largely related to damaged power delivery infrastructure and trees on power lines. Crews are assessing damage and mapping out power restoration plans.

Hinkle said there were roughly 2,800 Entergy "boots on the ground" working to restore power, "everything from electricians and heavy equipment operators to scouts and vegetation crews."

Roedel said an additional 90 linemen from other electric cooperative across Arkansas had been dispatched to C&L Electric to assist with power restoration efforts.

Hinkle also reported that a tree had fallen on a bucket truck in Pine Bluff, but that no one was hurt.

"We do encourage customers to stay inside and stay safe if there's a lot of ice around their home because ice laden tree limbs and power lines can fall and cause damage to property power lines and especially people," she said.


Due to the hazards posed by falling trees in the southern portion of the state, the Arkansas Department of Transportation is aiding in the cleanup effort there. 

Department spokesperson Dave Parker said it has "diverted crews and moved some of our other bridge maintenance folks and other personnel into that area to help clear the roadways, cut limbs, move debris, operate equipment. We're focusing on a lot of those southeastern counties, Ashley, Chico, Desha [and] Lincoln County."

On the department's Twitter account, Parker posted a photo of crews working to remove a tree that had fallen on Highway 425 in Lincoln County.

"I think that's pretty indicative of that whole area; the southeast just got the brunt of this system last night and, while the roads are in pretty good shape, the trees are coming down on the roads now," Parker said.

A KARK camera managed to catch a very large tree right as it toppled to the ground in Jefferson County.

Overall, Parker was "very proud" of how the transportation department performed over the course of roughly four days of winter weather in the state.

"Five days if you include the planning on Sunday," Parker said. "The pretreatment we did, I believe, paid off because it ended up creating (Wednesday) night that salt water-type solution on a lot of the roadways. 

"The salt and the rock salt we put down on Monday [and] Tuesday was still around last night and so it mixed with some of that precipitation and created that salt water on the roadway, and salt water takes a little harder to freeze, so I think it paid off."

But the week of bad weather was a "a pretty good drain on our salt supplies," Parker noted.

"We went into the storm in really good shape. Obviously, it took its toll on this ... Overall we're still okay, but it was definitely a drain compared to the storm we had the week before in the Northwest, which was a snow maker. That did not require nearly as much the rock-salt."

Speaking of salt, one of the department's plows that was heavy with it tipped over Thursday morning after blowing a tire, according to a tweet posted at 1:06 p.m. The driver wasn't injured though.

"It’s a good reminder that our crews have a tough job out there keeping our roads safe. We’re grateful to them and all their hard work," the tweet read.

Meanwhile, the Clinton National Airport remained open and operational throughout the winter storm. 

As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, its runways and taxiways were wet, and no frozen precipitation had occurred, officials reported.

Nineteen airfield employees were ready to begin treating surfaces as necessary.

Also, nine departing flights were cancelled, with eight delays, and12 arriving flights were cancelled, with nine delays, on Wednesday. 

As of Wednesday evening, seven departing flights scheduled on Thursday had been cancelled, with two delays, while while two arriving flights had been cancelled.

The airport suggests passengers check their flight status before driving there, on the airport's or on their airline's website. 


State government offices in weather affected areas will open at 10 a.m. today, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

State employees who cannot make it safely into work but are able to telework should do so, and state agencies may implement liberal leave policies for their employees who cannot make it safely into work nor telework, according to the governor's office.

State employees outside the affected areas should contact a supervisor for further instruction, the office said in a news release.

Sanders closed state office buildings, except for critical operations Tuesday and Wednesday, because of poor road conditions in many areas of the state.

The City of Little Rock announced Thursday afternoon that its Public Works department will resume trash collection on Friday.

Crews will collect on the city’s normal Friday routes.

Next week, trash collection will continue on regularly scheduled days.

For residents that did not receive trash collection on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday because of the weather, the city will collect additional bagged or contained trash placed beside the garbage bin.

The North Little Rock Sanitation Department said it would begin working regular Wednesday routes at 11 a.m. today. Crews will work today to complete all of Wednesday’s routes and also the regular Thursday routes. 

If the crews do not finish all of Thursday’s routes today, they will complete them on Friday, officials said.

Also, Waste Management is running their regular recycling routes today and Friday. They will run Tuesday and Wednesday's routes on Saturday.

Watson Chapel School District will be closed and utilizing remote learning again on Friday.

EARLIER: 3rd wave brings winter siege to end; ice expected to clear around Little Rock area

A third wave of winter weather, mostly freezing rain, was beginning to hit parts of Arkansas on Wednesday evening and was expected to continue this morning, the National Weather Service said.

The wave started to hit Central Arkansas around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, said Willie Gilmore, a senior forecaster with the weather service in North Little Rock. It was made up of mostly freezing rain with some sleet possible, he said.

Northern parts of the state might see some snow and sleet or freezing drizzle, but the majority of the precipitation was expected to be freezing rain, Gilmore said. Warmer temperatures and rain today are expected to clear up most of the accumulated ice, he said.

“Additional amounts of ice accumulation that Central Arkansas could see could be anywhere from a couple tenths of an inch to as much as half an inch,” said Colby Pope, a meteorologist with the weather service.

Freezing rain had started across southern and southeastern portions of Arkansas, as the final round of the ice storm ramped up, the weather service said in a tweet just before 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We expect this to continue and expand across much of the southern 2/3 of the state through tomorrow morning,” the tweet said.

An earlier briefing from the weather service said additional ice accumulation of a couple tenths of an inch or more was also possible in parts of western and eastern Arkansas.

Pope said the heavier freezing rain would be in central portions of the state, but some light winter precipitation might fall in some parts of north Arkansas or near Pine Bluff and Sheridan.

The meteorologist said that the freezing rain should switch over to regular rain just before noon today. “That will actually help melt the ice that’s accumulated from this third wave,” he said.

Temperatures this afternoon are expected to reach the mid-30s, which will allow some of the ice to melt, Pope said.

“We are approaching the end of this wild period of winter weather across the state,” the weather service said in a briefing on Wednesday.

According to the briefing, the ice storm warning, winter storm warning and winter weather advisories are expected to expire by noon today.

The briefing said the weather statewide will be dry by Friday morning, and temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s to mid-40s Friday afternoon.

Pope said forecasts show temperatures in Little Rock to be in the 40s and close to the 50s on Saturday. Sunday could see temperatures in the upper 50s, he said.

During the first and second waves of winter weather, Pope said the Little Rock metro area received about 0.2 inch of freezing rain and anywhere between 0.2 and 0.4 inch of sleet.

“[Tuesday], our saving grace was that what we thought would be freezing rain actually switched over to sleet,” Pope said. “Sleet is dangerous while it is coming down on the roads, but it won’t coat the trees and power lines like freezing rain would.” The first two waves also brought around 1 to 2 inches of sleet to some northern parts of Central Arkansas and 0.3 to 0.4 inch in the Mena to Little Rock to West Memphis area, the meteorologist said.


Brandi Hinkle, a spokesperson for Entergy Arkansas, said Wednesday that the electric company was prepared for a third wave.

“We’ve had people moved around to places we think are more likely to be hit with severe weather,” she said.

She said the utility was watching the winter weather move through south Arkansas and expected it to come to central parts of the state.

As of 3:37 p.m. Wednesday, Entergy had 2,310 reported outages across the state.

Of those, 919 were reported around Hector in Pope County, but the utility reported that those outages had been resolved by 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Entergy crews had restored around 16,000 power interruptions since Monday, Hinkle said.

“That accounts for being able to restore power temporarily, and sometimes the electricity goes out again and we have to work to restore power another time,” Hinkle said.

The company said earlier Wednesday that the peak number of outages was the 7,600 seen Tuesday morning.

Beyond the extra weight from ice accumulation that can cause power lines to snap, the winter weather can cause power disruptions through “galloping,” an update from the utility said.

“Galloping occurs when rain freezes on the power lines, and then steady winds cause adjacent lines to move and sometimes contact one another,” the update said.

A group of other utilities, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, reported 1,050 customers without power at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday.


Several major highways in the northern and northwestern parts of the state were at least partially clear after the first two rounds of winter weather earlier this week, the map of road conditions run by the Arkansas Department of Transportation showed just before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Spokesperson Dave Parker confirmed mid-afternoon on Wednesday that one of the department’s plow trucks crashed into a ditch earlier in the day while working in Newton County where Highway 16 and 21 meet. He said the driver was not injured.

In Little Rock, city roads were in “good condition” around 3 p.m. Wednesday, said Jon Honeywell, director of the Public Works Department.

The weather service in Little Rock tweeted at 2:21 p.m. Wednesday that travel could continue to be affected until melting occurs this morning.

For much of Wednesday, the Transportation Department spent the lull between the second and third waves trying to take advantage of what was “literally the calm before the storm.” 

“Our focus continues to be on I-40 and 65,” Parker said. “One thing we’ve been doing today is spending time re-shifting salt supplies. Overall, the amount is fine. We’re in good shape.

“But some of our smaller towns, rural areas are getting really low. So we’re taking supply from the larger salt houses, domes, whatever you want to call it, and moving those to those areas. So that once this hits we’re all equally and fairly [prepared].” As for how the department’s workforce was holding up, Parker said, “Everyone’s tired. I can tell you that.

“But we’re fine numbers wise. … It’s a hard 12-hour shift. When you’re working 12 hours is one thing. When you’re working out in the cold and you’re operating that big equipment at night time and you gotta really focus, it mentally wears you down. You need that 12 hours of rest.” But even after multiple days of winter weather, there likely won’t be a significant impact on any highway construction or maintenance projects, he said.

“That’s all contracted out,” Parker said. “I’m sure it’s slowed it down. But we build and they build into their contracts, into their bid, they build in a certain amount of winter weather days. Just like snow days, actually. They don’t anticipate contractors doing as much work come January, February. It sort of slows down, and then it picks back up pretty, pretty fierce in March. So I don’t think this is going to cause any problems.” 

No problems had been reported on the main runway or taxiways at the Clinton National Airport as of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The airport said then that seven departing flights had been cancelled, with five delays, and eight arriving flights had been cancelled, with two delays.

It suggested that passengers check their flight status before arriving, on the airport’s website or their airline’s website.


An emergency warming center operated by Aaron Reddin’s The Van was open for a third consecutive night on Wednesday at the Dunbar Community Center at 1001 W. 16th St. in Little Rock.

Reddin said, “We’ve had a lot more folks come in than we anticipated.” The shelter initially saw 65 people on Monday night. By Wednesday morning, that number had risen to 110 people, who “packed on the gym floor,” he said.

“The roads are pretty clear, so things haven’t been too terrible,” Reddin said. “We’ll be open again tonight, so we’ll have a good, hot supper tonight. Got volunteers whipping up breakfast burritos tonight for in the morning. We’ll close sometime [today]” after temperatures get above freezing.

On the menu for dinner Wednesday night was a “a hodgepodge of giant casseroles.” “[We’ll] get everybody’s belly full with a good hot meal tonight and go night-night,” Reddin said.


For the second consecutive day, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders closed state office buildings except for critical operations on Wednesday because of poor road conditions in many areas of the state.

City of Little Rock facilities were also closed.

“Pending any additional adverse conditions from [Wednesday night’s] forecast-ed weather, Little Rock Solid Waste plans to resume trash collections with a late start [this] morning. We will plan to begin with Tuesday routes and work as quickly as possible to catch up to the normal schedule,” Honeywell, the city’s public works director, said.

The city had suspended trash pickup over the previous two days due to the weather.

Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pulaski County Special, Cabot and Gentry school districts were scheduled to have their students learning remotely again today.

University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College locations will be closed today.

All in-person day and evening classes are cancelled, though online and hybrid courses may continue to meet at the discretion of instructors. Classes that usually meet on campus may also shift online at the discretion of the instructors, the school said.

Arkansas State University in Jonesboro canceled all on-campus classes, and academic and business offices will remain closed today.

The Red Wolves’ Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball game with South Alabama will tip off at First National Bank Arena at 7 p.m. today, the university announced Wednesday afternoon.

Also, both of the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana’s campuses were closed on Wednesday and will be closed Thursday.

The Clinton Presidential Center, including 42 Bar and Table and the Clinton Museum Store, will be closed today, as will the Little Rock Zoo.

The Saline County Courthouse and all county offices will also be closed.


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