Some Arkansas roads still slick as temperature rises

LITTLE ROCK — Many schools in the northern half of the state remained closed Monday and state government workers were given extra time to get to work as Arkansas recovered from a winter storm that left thousands without power.

Julie Munsell, spokeswoman for Entergy Arkansas, said about 40,000 customers were without power at some point during the storm, which began moving through the state Thursday. By Monday afternoon, all of those outages had been restored.

“We have wrapped up the ice event,” Munsell said.

Arkansas State Police said the storm appeared to have been partly to blame for two fatality accidents in the state.

Thursday night, Paul Zerby, 75, of Violet Hill in Izard County, died in a one-vehicle crash on Spring Hill Road not far from his home. A state police report said Zerby was driving in freezing rain when his pickup truck ran off the road and struck a tree.

Sunday night, Richard Charles Cox, 43, of Fort Smith, was walking near Towson Avenue and Boston Street in Fort Smith when he was struck and killed by a car that fled the scene. The state police report said it was snowing and the streets were icy at the time.

Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department spokesman Danny Straessle said Monday that crews were still working to clear roadways of ice and slush.

Straessle said road conditions could be difficult in some areas early Tuesday because temperatures were expected to drop below freezing overnight.

“Take your time and leave space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you,” he said.

Temperatures rose into the 30s Monday, with a slight chance of light snow or sleet, mainly in Northwest Arkansas, in the day’s forecast. No National Weather Service watches or warnings were in effect in the state at midday Monday.

In addition to numerous public schools, a number of colleges and universities were closed, including the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock.

The sleet and ice began moving through Arkansas on Thursday afternoon, and by Friday afternoon much of the northern half of the state was covered with a mixture of snow, sleet and ice, causing treacherous driving conditions.

One particularly difficult stretch of road was Interstate 540 north of Alma, Straessle said Monday. The roadway south of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel near the Crawford-Washington County line was “pretty much clear,” but north of the tunnel the interstate was down to one lane in either direction, he said.

“The route is navigable, it’s just slow going. They really got the lion’s share of the precipitation up there in the northwest part of the state,” Straessle said. “North central, northeast, you have rural highways in high elevations and those present their own challenges. We continue to treat all of the highways throughout the state.”