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story.lead_photo.caption File photo -- Traffic moves on South School Avenue, U.S. 71B, near the intersection of 11th Street in Fayetteville. - Photo by David Gottschalk

FAYETTEVILLE -- A cold front brought a blast of arctic air to Northwest Arkansas early Thursday morning, contributing to more than 50 wrecks over four hours in Washington County.

A spokesman for the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Okla., said temperatures dropped sharply, which may have contributed to the traffic problems.

The conditions reported at Drake Field at 5 a.m. were light snow and 35 degrees with wind from the northwest at 7 mph, according to Weather Service records. By 6 a.m., the temperature dropped to 31 degrees with wind gusts from 16 to 24 mph. At 7 a.m. the temperature was reported at 29 degrees.

Any snow that melted and any moisture remaining on roads and bridges quickly froze. Temperatures continued dropping for the next couple of hours, hitting 26 degrees between 9 and 10 a.m.

There were 36 wrecks reported on Interstate 49 between 5:30 and 9:30 a.m., according to Bill Sadler, spokesman for the Arkansas State Police. Sadler said all of the accidents were in Washington County and on elevated portions of the highway or on approaches to bridges.

Sadler said no serious injuries were reported from any of the wrecks.

Multiple wrecks happened on the Fulbright Expressway, Sadler said. State Police records indicate as many as 10, with most of the drivers choosing to make reports by phone.

A spokesman for Central Emergency Medical Services said ambulances went to 15 accidents between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and all the injuries were minor.

Police said 13 wrecks were reported in the city with no serious injuries.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office posted a warning to drivers about slick roads on its Facebook page at 7:43 a.m. saying seven wrecks were reported.

Channing Barker, communications director for Benton County, said a few slick spots were reported on county roads but no serious wrecks.

NW News on 02/14/2020

Print Headline: Cold front brings quick freeze to area roads

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