One dead as icy roads, sleet hit Northwest Arkansas

Kay Ellen Wilkerson of Fayetteville walks Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, with dog Calli along Skyline Drive beneath ice-covered trees in Fayetteville. A winter storm brought ice and sleet, making travel in the morning difficult. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

Police cited icy roads in a fatal wreck Monday morning as sleet is expected to move into the region by midafternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

The sleet could possibly mixed with freezing rain then become all sleet after 2 p.m. It will be cloudy with a high near 21.

Lt. Shannon Jenkins with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said a flatbed truck hauling equipment lost control and flipped on Guyll Ridge Road east of Avoca this morning. The driver was killed, Jenkins said. The crash was weather-related, she said. No name has been released.

Roads were slick in spots Monday, according to the Fayetteville Police Department and Springdale Police Department.


Ice patches were reported on most of the main highways and roads in the area, according to the website idrivearkansas.

The area from Bella Vista to Fort Smith is under a winter weather advisory, according to the weather service.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday activated winter weather support teams from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade to support Arkansas State Police Troop L in Lowell and Troop H in Fort Smith. Two teams will support each troop. The teams will be in place until road conditions improve and Arkansas State Police determines support is no longer needed, according to a National Guard news release.

Each winter weather support team consists of a five people, including one noncommissioned officer and four Guardsmen, and a Humvee with communications equipment. Each team will travel State Police designated roads to assist motorists and help motorists to safety. Teams are not authorized to recover privately owned or commercial vehicles. If the need arises, teams are permitted to recover first responder emergency vehicles to a safe area if they are able to do so, according to the release.

Karen Hatfield, a weather service meteorologist, said radar was showing sleet in western Benton County Monday morning that would move east on and off throughout the day before drying out in the evening.

By 11 a.m heavy sleet covered five-lane Highway 59 southwest of Siloam Springs.

Benton County Judge Barry Moehring announced at 6:30 a.m. that county offices and circuit courts were closed today. Jury selection was set to begin today in the third trial for Mauricio Alejandro Torres, 53, a Bella Vista man accused of killing his 6-year-old son in 2015.

The opening of Washington County offices was initially delayed to 10 a.m. but County Judge Patrick Deakins subsequently decided to close the courthouse for the day.

The Quorum Court’s County Services Committee meeting scheduled for Monday night was canceled, Deakins said, as was a Washington Water Authority meeting that was scheduled for Monday morning.

Washington County Road Department crews began spreading gravel on county roads around 3 a.m., according to Jeff Crowder, road superintendent. Crowder said Monday morning the forecast of more frozen precipitation means roads conditions will likely worsen later in the day.

“Right now, the roads are a lot better than they were at 3 a.m. when we deployed,” Crowder said around 9 a.m. “The main arterials are patchy with ice. We’re expecting some more weather to come through this afternoon, freezing drizzle and rain, so anything that we’ve got now it’s just going to compound it.”

Crowder said that the county may use some de-icer on roads this afternoon, if conditions are right. Otherwise, he said, the main effort will be to spread gravel on the most traveled roads and known trouble spots.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is compiling a list of road closings, accidents and other weather-related information on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Benton County Road crews began to treat county roads with salt and sand at 5 p.m. Sunday, said Melody Kwok, county communications manager. More salt and sand will be put down today, she said.

Bentonville announced on Twitter a snow day today for students and staff, Fayetteville will transition to an AMI day, Rogers School District building are closes today. Students already were scheduled to be out today and all district professional development will be held online, according to a Twitter post. Springdale also declared a snow day for today.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus, the University of Arkansas Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas Community College locations also were closed Monday.

The chance of precipitation is 70%. Daytime sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible, according to the weather service.

It will be cloudy tonight with a low around 18. with wind chill values between 7 and 12.

On Tuesday, there is a chance of snow and sleet between noon and 3 p.m., then a chance of snow and freezing rain after then with a high near 23. The chance of precipitation is 50%, according to the weather service.

Benton and Washington counties could see sleet and snow Tuesday morning. There will be greater chance for freezing rain and possible sleet in Fort Smith, Hatfield said.