Winter weather hits much of northern Arkansas

This graphic from the National Weather Service show winter chances for the Northwest region of the state on Monday, Feb. 12. (National Weather Service/X)
This graphic from the National Weather Service show winter chances for the Northwest region of the state on Monday, Feb. 12. (National Weather Service/X)

A mix of rain, sleet and snow fell over parts of northern Arkansas on Monday, prompting some schools to either delay opening or close for the day, employees to work remotely and travelers to navigate slushy roads during their morning commute.

But the wintry weather caused no major road issues in the northwest portion of the state, said Dave Parker, a spokesman with the Arkansas Department of Transportation. In fact, he added, it was all clear just before 1 p.m.

East, central and south Arkansas were not affected.

Snow hit two areas in particular early Monday: the Ozark and Boston Mountains in northern Arkansas and the highest peaks of the Ouachita Mountains in west-central Arkansas, the weather service said in one of its briefings issued during the day.

In Benton County, the wintry mix started around 4:40 a.m. and crews plowed snow from about 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., said Jay Frasier, Benton County administrator of public services.

Northwest Arkansas' three largest school districts -- Springdale, Bentonville and Rogers -- were all closed on Monday because of the weather. Springdale declared it a remote teaching and learning day. Siloam Springs was the only Benton County school district that was open Monday. The Eureka Springs School District in Carroll County delayed the start of classes by two hours.

Northwest Arkansas Community College, the state's largest two-year school, decided to go with remote learning until noon. Afternoon and evening classes went on as scheduled.

North Arkansas College in Harrison closed its campuses entirely and employees worked remotely.

Bentonville and Centerton city halls delayed opening until 10 a.m. Bella Vista city offices were closed entirely Monday, though business was conducted online, by phone and by email.

Dylan Cooper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock, described Monday's weather in north Arkansas "a low-end winter storm."

Shortly after noon, the weather service had gotten reports of three to four inches of snow in several places.

"Some places are even closer to five inches," he said.

Due to most areas having temperatures that were right at freezing or just above, the snow was melting after it fell, the forecaster said.

"The ground has warmed up some and the snow is melting as soon as it touches the ground but we're seeing accumulation because the snow is falling at such a fast rate, at least faster than it is able to melt," Cooper said Monday afternoon.

"It's not really moving as a band; these are scattered snow showers that are not organized. Some areas may see a handful more hours of snow, and they get up to an extra inch, before it moves east out the state tonight [Monday]," he said.

The forecaster said he expected the snow to melt fairly quickly after it stops falling.

Cooper said that some back roads in northern Arkansas may still have slush, but they are still drivable.

He said that not only did Central Arkansas miss out on snow Monday, the area is not even forecast to be cold the rest of the week.

"Little Rock is set to see highs near 70 on Thursday," Cooper said. "There is a big warm-up this week and we might cool down near the weekend due to cloud cover and the chance for some more hit-or-miss showers starting Friday."

He said forecasters were still monitoring the chance for any more Arctic Air to come to the state.

"Some longer term prediction models are saying we could get some more air from Canada, but it is too far away to tell if it will happen or how cold it would get," Cooper said.

The forecaster said that what the weather service has been looking at does not indicate anything coming will be as cold as the cold snap the state saw in January.

Cooper said that there have been snowfalls in the state in March, so there may still be winter weather possible in the months ahead.

"It is only early February; there is still a chance. We have roughly a month and a half left of winter," he said.

Information for this report was provided by the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.