Slick Roads Cause Traffic Headaches In Northwest Arkansas

Roads remain hazardous Tuesday morning

Posted: February 3, 2014 at 5 a.m.
Updated: February 3, 2014 at 12:21 p.m.

STAFF PHOTO BEN GOFF Several vehicles sit Sunday stuck in a ditch at a steep curve on East New Hope Road in Rogers.

12:21 p.m. update The Bentonville Street Department is working to keep main roads and intersections clear after the city received a few inches of snow Sunday, Street Manager Tony Davis said Monday morning.

"Hopefully we'll see a lot of progress today with the sun," he said, adding that though temperatures aren't above freezing yet, the sun can help break up ice and snow.

No roads have been closed in Bentonville due to the weather, Davis said.

The street department will "apply extra resources" to a road or area where multiple wrecks occur before closing it, Davis explained. The police and fire departments notify the street department of such areas.

"I can't remember the last time we shut down a road because of snow and ice," he said.

The fire department attended to one call for a vehicle accident, which happened at about 8 a.m. Monday near Highfill, according to Battalion Chief Jeremy Metcalf.

The police department had two accident reports as of 6 a.m. Monday, Captain John Hubbard said. Both were delayed accident reports from incidences that happened Sunday.

11:11 a.m. update Terry Nalley, Benton County's public service administrator, said county roads were mostly in good shape Monday morning, with conditions expected to improve throughout the day.

"Right now, most of them are in good shape," Nalley said. "When I say they're in good shape I mean they're better than passable. They are snow-packed. They are a little bit slick in places, especially around the lake with all the hills and trees we have there."

The Road Department responded to calls of trouble spots Sunday, Naley said, mostly in the eastern part of the county.

"Some places around Highway 12 were a big mess yesterday," he said. "We had a lot of calls from CENCOM and Emergency Services about conditions. We worked in the Avoca area, around Coose Hollow Road and on Highway 12."

Nalley said there was one minor accident Sunday involving a county dump truck. He said a vehicle ran into the truck while it was working on Stage Coach Road. The driver hurt his hand, Nalley said, but the passengers in the vehicle were unharmed and the truck was not damaged.

Nalley said the department had 41 employees working on the roads Monday morning, with 18 road graders and 10 dump trucks being used to remove the snow and spread sand and salt. He said the roads should get better through the day Monday but noted that more winter weather is in the forecast.

"With the temperatures getting up to what we are supposed to have today we'll be in real good shape by the end of the day," he said. "We're supposed to have freezing rain Tuesday night so we'll be out spreading sand around and hoping it doesn't wash off. That's about all we can do."

6:38 a.m. update: Roads around Northwest Arkansas remained treacherous Monday morning, with the Arkansas State Highway And Transportation Department reporting slow traffic and snow-covered highways around the area.

Schools are closed. The National Weather Service was predicting another round of winter weather starting tonight into Tuesday, with freezing rain and drizzle the predominant precipitation in Northwest Arkansas.

Eleven accidents were reported to Arkansas State Police Troupe L overnight, said Lt. John Overman.

Troupe L oversees Northwest Arkansas.

U.S. 412 east of Siloam Springs is snow covered this morning, Overman said.

"You can't tell which lane is what," he said.

At least one lane is open in each direction on Interstate 540, Overman said. He advises drivers to be cautious of black ice that may have formed from snow and ice melting and refreezing.

Wrecks piled up across Northwest Arkansas on Sunday as a snowstorm once again blanketed roads and hampered visibility.

“We’re having wrecks everywhere,” said Peggy Allred, who was helping the Arkansas State Police in Springdale answer calls.

Roads are extremely dangerous, she said.

Snow fell heavily Sunday morning and dumped about 3 inches of snow on Fayetteville by noon, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa. The service reported 4.25 inches of snow in Fayetteville 2 1/2 hours later.

By 1:20 p.m., at least 78 vehicle accidents had been reported in the area’s four largest cities, spokesmen said. Fayetteville police were out working 17 other accidents where reports had not yet been filed, spokesman Sgt. Craig Stout said.

Snow Amounts

The National Weather Service reported at 2 p.m. Sunday the following snow amounts:

Fayetteville — 4.25 inches

Bentonville — 3.5 inches of snow

Springdale — 3 inches of snow

Rogers — 1 inch of snow

Source: National Weather Service

Firefighters across Northwest Arkansas were responding to accidents, officials said.

In Bentonville, accidents were mostly minor, said Bentonville Fire Capt. Matt Perkins. Other cities, and Washington and Benton counties, reported large numbers of accidents but few serious injuries.

Along Interstate 540, snow covered roads. Troopers were working wrecks up and down the interstate and traffic backed up in some places, Allred said. People should stay home, she said.

In Benton County, officials closed Bull Hill Road, said Robert McGowen, county emergency management director. Vehicles also were stuck on a hill off Arkansas 62, east of Sugar Creek Road, he said.

No roads had closed in Washington County by 2 p.m., but the road conditions remained slick, said Shawn Shrum, assistant road superintendent. He advised people to stay home because of snowy conditions.

“It’s just everywhere,” Shrum said. “I’d steer clear of everywhere.”

Despite warnings, drivers were out en masse Sunday, officials said. Vehicles fishtailed along busy roadways and multiple-vehicle collisions were reported into Sunday afternoon. Along Interstate 540, at least one vehicle was in a ditch facing the wrong direction.

People may have gone out when driving conditions were clear Sunday morning and became caught in the snowstorm, Stout said. Roads were clear early Sunday, but by 11 a.m., conditions deteriorated rapidly, he said.

“It came on so fast,” Stout said.

Several officials said they were concerned people planned to go out to Super Bowl parties.

Rogers police spokesman Keith Foster said in a message that people should stay home. He warned against drinking at all and trying to drive on the roads.

Drivers who go out anyway should pack blankets, tools in case they get stuck and a charged cell phone, police said. Stuck drivers could have to wait awhile for help, Stout said.

Another round of wintry weather is expected to start tonight, according to the weather service.