LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The highly anticipated Arctic cold front we’ve been discussing for over a week has arrived in northwest Arkansas. Through the day, it will continue its sweep across the Natural State, bringing a sharp drop in temperatures and perhaps just enough precipitation to cause issues on roadways later in the day.
Light rain and mist have already made roads wet in Little Rock and central Arkansas. Temperatures remain in the 40s until the front arrives, likely around 2pm to 3pm Thursday. Light rain ramps up as the front moves closer near noon to 1pm. How much rain we see around then will determine if and how icy it could get in the city. Then as the front passes, a brief round of light snow will pass through. Timing of this will be roughly 2pm to 5pm for Little Rock and immediately surrounding areas.
While snowfall amounts appear limited, a flash freeze may occur. This would cause early morning wet roadways to quickly freeze, leading to travel issues into the late afternoon and evening. For this reason, the National Weather Service has issued Winter Weather Advisories for the majority of the state.
Northwest Arkansas dealt with a flash freeze Thursday morning, and icy conditions continue to be a problem there over Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Bentonville. Snowy roadways extend over Harrison, Eureka Springs, Jasper & Harrison.
Snow will be heaviest and longer-lasting across the northern tier of the state, which is where most of our accumulations will be seen. Along the I-40 corridor, snow will be more sporadic and shorter-lived. Therefore, less accumulation is anticipated in the Little Rock Metro.
Snow falls heavily in far north Arkansas outside Omaha Thursday afternoon around 1pm. Treated roads are doing fairly well, but many spots are seeing icy and snow patches across north Arkansas as of Thursday afternoon. Interstates will be in better shape overall, but less traveled roads could have problems.
It will also be extremely windy, which will reduce visibility, particularly over northwest Arkansas. High-profile vehicles and semi-trucks will also be impacted by wind. Gusts could range from 30 to 45 mph over north Arkansas Thursday. The wind may also lead to blowing snow where accumulations are greatest. This could limit visibility going into Thursday night, in addition to possibly slick roadways.
To make matters worse, strong wind coupled with frigid temperatures will make for incredibly dangerous wind chills. These numbers will slip into the single digits statewide by early evening. All of Arkansas will wake up to wind chills below zero by daybreak Friday.
Any snow we do get will struggle to melt due to sub-freezing temperatures Friday. If anything, some may evaporate due to high wind. But roads will remain questionable, especially in shady areas on Friday.
Temperatures will stay below freezing from Thursday night through Christmas afternoon. With this kind of prolonged cold, it’s important to prepare.
Remember to protect the “5 P’s” as listed below.
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