After Pine Bluff and the the surrounding area were blanketed with snow Friday night, forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for a second round.
On Saturday afternoon, the NWS issued a hazardous outlook advisory for 47 Arkansas counties for more snow and ice late Sunday and possibly stretching to early Monday evening.
“We are looking at more of the same Sunday after dark, and into Monday. Precipitation models are projecting a potential for two to three more inches in south central Arkansas that would include the Pine Bluff area,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Lesko of Little Rock.
“We are projecting the situation late Sunday night will be similar with what we saw Friday night. As the snow compacts more on the roads, and as ice patches develop, that is when road travel becomes a concern,” she said.
At 2:42 Saturday, the National Weather Service’s hazardous outlook advisory said: “Temperatures will fall back below freezing tonight, and area roadways will remain hazardous. Clouds will increase during the overnight hours due to the amount of moisture over the region. Freezing fog will also be possible, which will only make road conditions worse.”
The advisory continued, saying “Another system is expected to affect Arkansas Sunday night into Monday night. Again bringing the possibility of wintry precipitation. However, the possibility of accumulating snowfall is increasing, especially across northern and central Arkansas.”
Lesko said that unless otherwise noted, the hazardous outlook advisories generally are effective within a 24-hour span. She expected, however, that other advisories could be issued between Saturday night and Monday morning as forecasts and weather models are monitored.
A winter storm watch also issued Saturday afternoon said “After a brief warmup Sunday, a cold front will sweep through Arkansas from the north Sunday night. On Monday, chances for snow will increase in northern and central sections of the state.”
Pine Bluff police reported relatively few incidents related to the hazardous road conditions.
“We’ve been lucky, very fortunate so far,” Pine Bluff Police Department Sgt. James Woodfield said Saturday afternoon.
At that time, Woodfield said there had been a total of approximately 15 accidents, but no serious injuries or deaths attributed to the weather and road conditions. He said there could be some instances of unreported events, such as stranded cars.
He said that seven vehicles had been reported off the road, and two accidents had involved 18-wheelers.
Woodfield speculated that with the snowfall occurring overnight and over the weekend, many people were already at home, so incidents were minimized.
Karen Quarles of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management said Saturday evening that county road crews “have been working around the clock since Friday night,” and she anticipated they will continue work through Sunday and into Monday as necessary.
“So far, we haven’t seen anything of the ordinary,” she said. “There have been a few fender-benders and cars on the side of the road, but nothing serious that I know about. We’ve had the crews out sanding and clearing the roads and bridges, and the major roadways are in good shape.
Quarles said she drove around Pine Bluff on Friday evening, and Saturday, she spent much of her time in White Hall and Hardin.
“It looks like most people have decided to stay inside,” she said.
Quarles said she receives regular updates from the NWS, and she was aware of a possible repeat snowfall early Monday.
“We are just going to have to wait and see, but if that does occur, I hope officials and managers would encourage their people to stay home. The county road crews will be ready,” she said
Lesko said the NWS reported that both Little Rock and Pine Bluff received 2 to 4 inches of snow Friday night.
“The snow was actually widespread with reports from Mena and Russellville to Pine Bluff and Warren. Of the two heavy bands, the first hit Little Rock, and then the second one hit the Pine Bluff region,” she said.
At midnight Saturday, an NWS preliminary report said Sheridan had received 3 inches of snow; Warren, 2 inches; Star City, 4 inches, Rison, 2.5 inches and Stuttgart 3 inches. All those reported totals were attributed to law enforcement sources.
Later Saturday morning, another NWS report said White Hall had reported 3.3 inches of snow through social media, while Leola had 1.5 inches, according to a trained observer. East of Pine Bluff, a trained observer reported 2.7 inches had fallen.
Lesko said Sunday represents what she described as “a short break” between the winter storm systems.
“There will be a brief warm-up Sunday, and early Sunday afternoon, most people should be able to go about their business. Early morning and night-shift drivers, however, face the concern of ice patches on the roads,” she said.