Snow still fore­cast in north Arkansas; south­east to see a lot of rain

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - CLARA TURNAGE

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.”

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