Arkansas

Thousands of people lose power due to heavy snowfall in northwest Arkansas

 

Thousands of homes and businesses in Benton and Washington counties were still without power Wednesday afternoon after heavy sleet fell overnight.

The outages included the Springdale Planning and City Clerk offices at 206 S. Blair St., which closed for the day.

As of 8:30 pm, there were 8,078 customer outages in Washington County, according to the website poweroutage.us. Southwestern Electric Power Co. reported 4472 outages and Ozarks Electric Cooperative reported 3596 outages.

As of 8:30 p.m., there were 703 power outages in Benton County, most of which were due to Carroll Electric Cooperative, according to poweroutage.us.

Fayetteville received 8 inches of snow, said Karen Hatfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rogers had just over 4 inches of snow, while Bentonville and Fort Smith had 4 inches, according to Hatfield.

According to Hatfield, Winslow reported 8 inches and Elkins and West Fork reported 7 inches of snow.

Higher totals were recorded in Mount Magazine in Logan County, which received 16 inches of snow and about 3 miles southeast of Hindsville in Madison County, which recorded 10 inches, meteorologist Mark Plate said Wednesday afternoon.

Melody Kwok, director of communications for Benton County, said traffic crews reported around noon that the county’s paved roads were in good condition and snow was melting on dirt roads. However, she says isolated slippery patches are still present across much of the county.

The county planned for the brigade to work through the night to deal with emergency calls. According to her, graders will leave the dirt roads this morning to break up the re-frozen areas.

Should be mostly sunny tonight with a high around 36. Wind chill readings will be between 7 and 17. Tonight’s low will be around 26, according to the weather service.

Bentonville’s streets were mostly passable by early Wednesday morning, according to Dennis Birge, director of city transportation. According to him, the city crews cleared the main and collector roads until 6 am, and after that they worked on local and side streets.

According to the city’s website, Fayetteville’s city offices were closed for the day. Washington County offices have also been closed, according to the county’s website. Benton County facilities opened at 10 a.m., Kwok said.

Lieutenant Shannon Jenkins of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said deputies have settled several minor incidents where cars went into the ditch Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. There were no serious injuries or accidents.

In Fayetteville, police reported several problems on city streets from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning.

“We’ve had eight accidents since 4:00 pm yesterday,” the sergeant said. Anthony Murphy, a police department public information officer, said at 9:30 am Wednesday. “We have received reports of 10 road hazards, namely vehicles stuck on the roadway. As far as I know, the streets are not blocked. Around 6:00 pm last night, the township was closed between College Avenue and Old Wire Road due to some accidents or vehicles. from the roadway.

“At college and campus, a car crashed into a gas pipeline, so the gas company had to get out and shut it down,” Murphy said. “We had an accident at Woolsey and Sycamore streets. It mostly happens on the streets where there are hills. We had several transformers blown up and there were several power outages.”

Washington County Sheriff Jay Cantrell said deputies responded Wednesday morning to three traffic accidents on the county’s highways and were called to assist the Arkansas State Police in a series of accidents on Interstate 49 and other state highways.

Cantrell said the nature of the calls changed as the storm developed and more snow fell. Starting around 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, the sheriff’s office answered numerous calls about slippery roads and helped motorists who were stuck or unable to make it to the top of the hill on some county roads. From about 9 pm, he said, more and more calls began to come in about fallen trees on the roads, power lines and transformers that were out of order or sparking.

“Heavy sleet hit trees and power lines and brought them down in many places,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell said the sheriff’s office has brought together groups of deputies and detainees to assist the county’s highway department in clearing trees. According to him, the condition of the roads is generally satisfactory.

The idrivearkansas.com website states that Interstate 49 is clear from Alma to Fayetteville and then through the slush to Bentonville. According to the website, most state highways in Benton and Washington counties reported slush as of 9am. US 412 in Siloam Springs was mostly dry by early afternoon Wednesday.

Most schools in the region closed on Wednesday – some simply declared a snow day, while others switched to alternative teaching methods or distance learning.

As of today, most Washington County school districts are closed again. Fayetteville and Elkins School Districts have canceled school, while West Fork, Prairie Grove, Lincoln, Greenland and Farmington Counties today decided to use alternative teaching methods.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric reported a power outage in the Fort Smith area around 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, affecting approximately 5,280 customers. They said they would continue to restore power throughout Wednesday and expect most customers to be serviced by 8pm.

The Fort Smith Police Department responded to a number of potential dangers across the city on Wednesday morning.

In a press release, police listed a fallen tree in the 1200 block of South 66th Street, a metal plate knocked off the road at 5500 Rogers Ave., and downed power lines at 400 S. 14th St., 1000 S. 66th St., intersection South 40th and South P Streets, intersection of South 40th and South N Streets and 400 S. 9th St.

A press release said the department had been inundated with traffic accident calls since Tuesday evening and had to temporarily suspend its immediate minor accident investigation as a result.

“Stakeholders are encouraged to share information and accident reports can be filed in person at a later time when it is safe to do so, or by phone until further notice,” it said.

Snow covers trees leading to the historic Washington County Courthouse on Wednesday after several inches of snow fell overnight. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe) Dixon Street in Fayetteville sees traffic on Wednesday. A winter storm threw several inches of sleet onto the area. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe) A Fayetteville city truck dumps snow collected on Wednesday from a city square downtown onto a city-owned lot in south Fayetteville. A winter storm threw several inches of sleet onto the area. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe) JD Gass, owner of Penny Hardwoods in the West Fork, buys fuel on Wednesday to fuel a skid steer loader while helping his neighbors clear snow from their downtown West Fork businesses. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe) Maddie Fairchild, a University of Arkansas student from Springdale, kicks a snowball out of the water as she plays with her roommate on campus in Fayetteville on Wednesday. The two of them went to explore the campus after several inches of snow fell overnight. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe) Laura Hardin races down the hill on her snowtube Wednesday at Greer Lingle High School in Rogers. The hill on the south side of the school is a popular place for sledding. Northwest Arkansas received several inches of wet snow Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, perfect for sledding and snowman building. Go to nwaonline.com/photos for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff) Amy Orellana takes her dog Luna for a sledding session Wednesday at Greer Lingle High School in Rogers. The hill on the south side of the school is a popular place for sledding. Northwest Arkansas received several inches of snow Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. Go to nwaonline.com/photos for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff) Nicole Novak, a University of Arkansas student from Mansfield, Texas, photographs Old Main on campus Wednesday after several inches of snow fell overnight. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shoup)

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