Santa Claus made his rounds through Arkansas before snow struck Tuesday night, but most children — of all ages — were more than willing to accept a rare white Christmas regardless of the hour.
Four inches of snow fell in Sheridan and Pine Bluff while Stuttgart received 2.5 inches. Above that line across Grant, Jefferson and Arkansas counties, accumulations were up to a foot. A few, short-lived power outages occurred in Southeast Arkansas, but Entergy crews quickly restored electrical service. Some power lines reportedly gave way under the weight of ice, and several others were snagged by falling limbs or trees that sagged because of ice loads.
The National Weather Service in North Little Rock said its watch station at Pine Bluff’s Grider Field Airport reported light snow just before 4 p.m. The snow increased in intensity before briefly turning to freezing rain just before 7 p.m. Snow soon resumed and continued until about 5 a.m. Wednesday.
An airport spokesman said the weather didn’t create any problems at the facility. A number of roads became hazardous, but motorists responded well and reduced their driving speed. There were a few cases of motorists losing control of their vehicles, which slid off roadways into ditches, fields or yards.
Neither the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office or local police departments encountered any difficulties. The sheriff’s office had chains ready for placement on the tires of its patrol vehicles, but the chains wound up being unnecessary.
Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Karen Quarles said she was initially concerned that conditions might become critical but everything “turned out OK.”
By early Wednesday afternoon, much of the snow and slush had melted off primary roadways, which were being heavily traveled. Temperatures weren’t rising as much as had been predicted and cloudy conditions had prevailed, so snow wasn’t melting off rooftops and in yards as quickly.
Authorities were warning residents to be cautious this morning, however, as much of what melted Wednesday was expected to refreeze overnight. Some forecast models were showing temperatures would fall to about 20 degrees Wednesday night and early today.
Motorists were cautioned to watch for “black ice patches” along roadways and pedestrians were instructed to be alert for ice on outdoor steps and walkways.