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Roads hazardous, schools closed

Posted: December 6, 2013 at 6:26 a.m.
Updated: December 6, 2013 at 1:39 p.m.

Jim and Daniella Bolte work on their drive way on Cherry Street in Rogers Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas may get another 2 to 3 inches of snow today as a winter storm moves through the region, said Craig Sullivan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Okla.

As of 10 p.m. Thursday, accumulation was up to 6 1/2 inches in Centerton, 3 to 4 inches in Fayetteville, 5 inches in Pea Ridge and 5 inches in Bella Vista, Sullivan said. There was probably more accumulation throughout the night and into this morning.

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Snow covers a street in the Washington Willow Historic District in Fayetteville on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. (By: Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Gretchen Friedrich)

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Tyler and Darin Phelan in Fayetteville north of Razorback Stadium (By: David Gottschalk)

It should continue to snow today into the early afternoon, Sullivan said. The rest of the afternoon and evening should be overcast, with the storm clearing out Friday night.

Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale and Fayetteville School District officials reported on Facebook Thursday afternoon that schools will be closed Friday due to the weather. Schools were also closed Thursday.

There were no accidents overnight on state highways, said Lt. John Overman with Arkansas State Police Troop L. Troop L oversees Northwest Arkansas. A tractor-trailer stalled on Interstate 540 near the Bobby Hopper Tunnel Friday morning, and a car slid off the road on I-540 north of the 76 mile marker. No one was injured, he said.

Roads are still slick, but now there is a coating of snow over the icy pavement, Overman said. The snow will provide a little bit of traction, but the roads are still dangerous. Overman advises people to drive slowly if they set out to drive in the winter weather.

"Traffic is so light and people are staying in," he said.

A stretch of Arkansas 71B between Backus Avenue in Springdale and Arkansas 264 in Bethel Heights had become impassable Thursday night, according to the Springdale Police Department. Derek Hudson, a spokesman for the department, said Friday morning that the section was now passable with stalled vehicle cleared and sand put on the road, but that it was still very dangerous.

Keith Foster, a spokesman for the Rogers Police Department, said there were only two wrecks in Rogers between 2 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday.

There were no state highways closed in Benton County Friday morning but all of the roads are covered in snow, said Steve Lawrence, district engineer with district 9 pf the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. District 9 oversees state highways in Benton County.

There are crews out on the roads in Benton County plowing snow and they will lay down salt and sand if needed, Lawrence said.

"It's coming down quicker than we can get it off," he said.

Terry Nalley, the administrator of public services for Benton County, said they have not had to close any streets or roads because of the snow and ice.

Nalley said they currently have 15 plows running throughout the county. They also have 12 or 13 trucks with plows and putting a sand mixture on intersections of county roads.

"The first crew is out working now," Nalley said. "The second crew worked last night and have been sent home."

The crews are working in 10 hour shifts, according to Nalley.

Nalley described the roads as being snow packed with ice underneath. The roads are treacherous and slick, Nalley said.

"They are bad but not enough to close," Nalley said.s

Nalley encouraged people to stay off the roads. "Let us get the roads clear," Nalley said.

Nalley said road crews are assisting if they come upon a motorist stranded in the snow.

"If we come upon anyone we will assist anyway we can," Nalley said.

Robert McGowan, the county's emergency management director, described the roads as hazardous, but said he had not received any reports of serious injuries related to the weather.

McGowan also said there had been no reports of power outages in the county.

Roads in Washington County are fully covered with snow, said Chad Adams, district engineer for District 4 of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. District 4 oversees Washington County.

Crews are out plowing snow off the roads and laying down salt and sand, Adams said. With the snow falling heavily, as it was Friday morning, it piles up again shortly after the roads are plowed. There hasn't been much ice damage in the northern part of Washington County, but there has been more ice down south near Fort Smith, he said.

No state highways are closed in Washington County, but Adams said people should stay off the roads.

There are no power outages in Northwest Arkansas, but many about 11,000 people in the Fort Smith area woke up without power this morning, said Peter Main, spokesman for Southwestern Electric Power Company.

There is no estimated time for having the power back on because the winter storm isn't over yet, Main said. The power outages were caused by ice on power lines and tree branches hitting the lines. Company officials have sent personnel to the affected areas to work on restoring power.

"We're still assessing damage and we'll still be experiencing outages as the weather system moves through," he said.

At noon Friday, Mike Button, Bella Vista street superintendent, said his crew was having a tough time keeping up with the deluge of snow.

"It's pretty slick out on the city streets," he said. "We can't keep up. It keeps coming, coming, coming."

He said the city's trucks were concentrating on the main roads to keep them cleaned.

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