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story.lead_photo.caption Pedestrians brave the chilly wind Tuesday afternoon while crossing a street in downtown Little Rock. Temperatures in central Arkansas hovered in the upper 30s the day after Christmas, with lows overnight expected to plunge into the upper 20s. - Photo by John Sykes Jr.

Most of Arkansas is going to experience colder weather over the next several days with an arctic blast expected around Sunday.

"We're going to start out the new year cold," meteorologist Willie Gilmore of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock said Tuesday.

Bitterly cold conditions have enveloped much of the Midwest already, and a blizzard has left a record amount of snow in parts of New England. Officials have issued a snow emergency for Erie, Pa., warning people to stay off the streets because lake-effect snow has left roads "dangerous and impassable."

The weather service in North Little Rock said low temperatures in the midteens to mid-20s are expected this morning in northern parts of Arkansas, with lows in the mid-20s to the 30s expected farther south.

The weather service predicts high temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s for the rest of this week and lows in the mid- to upper 20s.

Little Rock announced in a news release Tuesday that it will open four warming centers today through Friday, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, for anyone looking for shelter from the cold.

The centers are at:

• Dunbar Community Center, 1001 W. 16th St.

• East Little Rock Community Center, 2500 E. Sixth St.

• Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road.

• West Central Community Center, 4521 John Barrow Road.

All four centers will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day and will provide drinking water and restrooms. Parks and Recreation Department workers will be on hand to assist visitors.

A warming station also will be available in Conway through Feb. 28 when temperatures are at or below 40 degrees. The warming station will be open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly at the Conway Ministry Center, 766 Harkrider St.

While there was a chance for some freezing rain and sleet overnight and into this morning in parts of southeast Arkansas, Gilmore said conditions are expected to remain mostly dry until the weekend.

Some weather models show a chance of wintry precipitation moving into the state late Saturday and into Sunday. Chances are low, but the weather service cautioned that if precipitation occurs "it may be fairly widespread." Gilmore said any precipitation that falls is not expected to freeze.

A strong arctic mass is expected to move into Arkansas early next week, according to a hazardous weather outlook report from the weather service in North Little Rock. Gilmore said daytime highs will reach into the 20s in northern parts of the state and into the 30s in southern parts of Arkansas.

Wind chill factors will range from single digits to below zero, Gilmore noted, adding that normal daytime highs for this time of year usually range from the 40s and into 60s. Wind chill is a calculation of the combined effect of wind and temperatures on exposed skin.

The bitter conditions should be short-lived, however, as a warming trend is expected to return to Arkansas by the middle of next week, Gilmore said.

Arkansas and surrounding states are expected to remain outside the boundary of the cold weather that has hit Northern states.

Wind chill advisories or warnings are in effect for all of North Dakota and Wisconsin as well as large parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana. Wind chill advisories also are in effect for parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

With snow falling at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour, the National Weather Service said Erie has picked up at least 58 inches since the storm began on Christmas Eve. Most of that fell in a 30-hour period from Christmas morning into Tuesday.

Forecasts say an additional 1 to 2 feet of snow could fall across the area through today.

Pennsylvania officials have declared a state of emergency in the Erie area and are advising motorists to stay off city streets and nearby highways, including Interstates 90 and 79.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also is expected to call up the National Guard because of concerns that ambulances will not able to reach some patients because of the snowfall.

"They don't have vehicles high enough, so we are currently working with the National Guard to be able to deploy Humvee ambulances to assist them," said Richard Flinn, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Emergency Management. "We will also provide the state police with Humvees in case they need it."

Erie has received 97 inches of snow in December, making it the snowiest month in the city's history. The city averages about 100 inches in an entire season.

Information for this article was contributed by Brandon Riddle of Arkansas Online and by Tim Craig of The Washington Post.

Photo by David Gottschalk
Water continues to spray Tuesday as ice forms on the McClinton Fountain of Education outside the Fayetteville Public Schools’ administration offices in Fayetteville. Below-freezing temperatures in the area remain in the forecast through the week and weekend.
Photo by AP/Erie Times-News/GREG WOHLFORD
Rochelle Carlotti, 28, shovels steps Tuesday near her home after a record snowfall in Erie, Pa. The National Weather Service office in Cleveland says Monday’s storm dropped 34 inches of snow, an all-time daily snowfall record for Erie.

State Desk on 12/27/2017

Print Headline: Bitter cold stopping by, but no snow so far

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