FAYETTEVILLE — A severe winter storm hit northwest Arkansas Tuesday, with forecasters predicting up to a foot of snow on the higher ground.
By 8:30 p.m., about 4 to 5 inches fell in Fayetteville, with higher accumulation in the elevated areas of the city and Washington County, Mike Teague of the National Weather Service in Tulsa said. According to him, Teague expected several more inches to fall during the night, causing most of the county’s residents to wake up to about 6-8 inches.
According to Teague, the lowest temperature in the region reached about 30 degrees.
“It’s some kind of wet, sloppy snow,” he said. “Obviously a lot of snow affects travel, but it’s not like it’s 10 degrees colder and the roads are really snowy.”
Fayetteville police responded to several traffic accidents after it snowed in the city Tuesday afternoon, according to Sergeant Fayetteville. Anthony Murphy. Township Street, east of College Avenue, was temporarily closed in the evening while crews repaired a car-damaged gas pipeline, he said.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported a number of stalled vehicles and impassable roads. According to the department’s Facebook page, seven vehicles were stranded on Arkansas 74 at Mount McGuire near Elkins around 6:45 p.m. Large trees blocked roads in the Harris area and near Salem Cemetery in Elkins.
Snow fell later in Benton County than in Washington County, Teague said, as temperatures mostly stayed above freezing during the day.
Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins said Tuesday night he had only heard of a few power outages and no major traffic accidents.
On Tuesday night, utility companies showed clusters of power outages across Northwest Arkansas.
Bart Haacke, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tulsa, said temperatures will remain fairly constant in the 30 to 30 degree range throughout the storm.
“There’s not a lot of cold air associated with this storm,” Haake said.
The storm will pass through the area quickly, he said, with only a 20 percent chance of snow predicted to date.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday deployed a five-member Winter Weather Support Team from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade to support Arkansas State Police Troop L in northwest Arkansas during the storm. The team will work around the clock until there is no need.
Each team will travel on state police designated roads to help motorists and keep them safe. Teams are not authorized to return private or commercial vehicles. If necessary, teams are allowed to return ambulances to a safe area if they are able to do so.
On Tuesday, some local organizations set up shelters for the homeless ahead of the storm.
“Wednesday night and Thursday morning temperatures could be lethal for our neighbors who are sheltering outside,” Mike Williams, CEO of 7hills Homeless Center, said in a press release Tuesday afternoon.
The 7hills Homeless Center, Genesis Church, New Beginning Bridge housing estate, NWA Continuum of Care, and the Northwest Arkansas Salvation Army have teamed up to provide shelter when temperatures reach wind chill or “feel” temperatures of 15 degrees or less. .
In the evening, once the Salvation Army emergency shelter fills up, Genesis Church will open its doors to power the overflow emergency shelter. New Beginnings and Micah 6:8 Ministries provide overnight staff.
At 6 am, the Genesis Church and the Salvation Army close the lodging for the night. Transportation is provided to the 7hills Homeless Center which opens early on these cold days to provide a warming center, coffee, breakfast and lunch, winter clothing and bathrooms. The 7hills Center is extending its regular opening hours until 6:00 pm to complement the opening hours of the Genesis Church Orphanage.
Jeff Crowder, Washington County Highway Inspector, said his department has deployed new equipment for this storm, and field crews have been issued devices that can detect live power lines.
“Given the wet ground we have, it wouldn’t take much weight for the tops of these trees to bring them down,” Crowder said. “If the trees have fallen on the line but they are still charged, these monitors can detect it. This way we can notify the power companies to go out and shut down the lines before we get to them. Many times you think that because the lines are not working, they are not active, and sometimes, especially at night, you do not see the lines.
Dave Parker, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said the state has sent more crews and equipment to northwest Arkansas, and workers have already been treating some roads with a brine mixture as early as Monday morning. Parker said storm time made the decision to pre-process the “judgment challenge.”
“We understand that rain can wash away some of the salt water, but if it helps even a little, we are ahead of the game,” said Parker.
Parker said the statewide dividing line for areas predicted to receive snow runs along Interstate 30 through Little Rock, with areas to the northwest expected to receive most of the snow.
“We have extra crews in Russellville predicting light snow in Russellville and the area,” he said. “We’re in Fort Smith, and in Benton and Washington counties, and in the Northwest Arkansas area.”
Some schools in the area have canceled face-to-face classes for today. Rogers, Springdale, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville Schools have moved into “alternative teaching method” days for distance learning. School buildings will be closed. Fort Smith County officials also announced that the Peak Innovation Center will also transition to remote learning today.
Haas Hall will provide distance learning at its campuses in northwest Arkansas.
The Bentonville School District declared a snow day today and will make up for it on May 26th.