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Friday, January 3, 2014

Update from the Garland County Department of Emergency Management

The next cold front will enter northwest Arkansas Saturday afternoon and exit southeast Arkansas on Sunday morning.
Precipitation with this front will start out as rain in most areas Saturday night, then change to snow in northern and central sections from later Saturday night into Sunday morning.  The south will have only rain.  Precipitation should move east out of Arkansas by early Sunday afternoon.
Across the northern two or three rows of counties, snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches can be expected, and there could be some locally higher totals, especially in the northwest.
As far south as a line from about Mena to Sheridan to Helena-West Helena, some snow should be seen with perhaps a dusting up to an inch.
Temperatures will continue dropping after the snow falls, so where accumulations do occur, hazardous driving conditions can be expected.
A secondary blast of Arctic air will move across Arkansas for Sunday night and Monday, bringing bitterly cold air, accompanied by quite a bit of wind.  We are likely to see Wind Chill Advisories issued for much of the state, and maybe even some Wind Chill Warnings in the north.
I'll share a couple of concerns here:  First, with the below-normal temperatures we had in December, I suspect that some people have had unpleasant surprises on their utility bills.  With the new round of even colder weather, some people may be tempted to cut back on heating (to avoid additional high bills) and end up suffering from hypothermia.  This could be especially true with elderly people, so the advice to check on your neighbors definitely applies here.  Also, some people with poorly-insulated houses may use improper heating sources, such as the oven or the burners on the kitchen stove.  Second, temperatures are going to get cold enough to cause some ponds to freeze over, tempting people to try to walk across on the ice.  It is unlikely that the thickness of the ice will be sufficient to support the weight of a person, so there will definitely be a danger of people falling through the ice.
From late Wednesday into Wednesday night, we are likely to have some more winter weather in the state.  At that time, the coldest air will be moving off to the east of Arkansas and warmer air will be trying to move in.  This will lead to warmer air aloft moving over the top of the cold air near the ground.  This is a recipe for freezing rain and maybe some sleet.  At this time, and it is still a long way off, the northern half of Arkansas appears most likely to be affected.

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