Monday, January 09, 2017

TOP STORY >> Winter-weather surprise

By RICK KRON Leader staff writer

That small band of light snow that was supposed to zip through the center of the state quickly early Friday morning slowed, widened and dropped more fluffy stuff than originally forecast.

The National Weather Service extended winter weather advisories from noon Friday to 3 p.m. and then to 6 p.m. as the storm left 2 to 3 inches of snow in the area and closed down all school districts, many businesses and most government offices from Pine Bluff to north of Searcy.

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District announced Friday the snow day would be made up May 30.

Saturday and Sunday’s sunshine and highs into the mid-30s means the snow won’t stay for long. But long-term forecasts call for more snow to hit the area the last week of January.

Jacksonville Police Lt. Thomas Mayberry said there had been a number of collisions and vehicles sliding off the road Friday but no major injuries. “The sand trucks are out doing what they can, and we pray and hope everyone stays safe until conditions improve.”

In Sherwood, Police Capt. Kel Nicholson said the city also had a number of accidents, mostly early and around Jax-Cutoff Road and North Hills Boulevard around Seminole Trail. He said conditions improved in the afternoon. “We are still asking everyone to be careful, especially at the city intersections.”

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said the bridges were fairly dangerous early in the morning, but everything was passable by mid-afternoon “as long as everyone drives carefully.”

He said the city had all of its snow equipment out on the road since daylight. “The schools are closed, city government is closed and overall, it’s been quiet,” the mayor said.

Cabot police spokesman Sgt. Shane Moore said there was one accident reported Friday due to the winter weather.

Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain said on Friday afternoon the main road was clear. The city put salt out on Hwy. 367 on Thursday night, 4 a.m. and at around noon on Friday. She said no wrecks had been reported.

Beebe Mayor Mike Robert-son said, “The roads are passable and traffic is moving. Some of the intersections were slick.”

Beebe police responded to six accidents due to the weather.

Robertson said the city put out salt in some places on Thursday night. The city called the state Highway Department to clear the overpasses and exit ramps, but they had not responded. The bridges were icy.

Jacksonville Public Works director Jimmy Oakley said on Friday afternoon, “A lot of ice and snow on the roads had melted off. The sun helped us out a lot.”

Public works crews were out at 4:30 a.m. and throughout the day putting sand on the Main Street bridge and in shady areas.

Jacksonville Cut-off Road was closed on Friday on both the Jacksonville and Sherwood sides to prevent people from getting stranded, Oakley said. There were a lot of cars that went off the road there.

Jacksonville sanitation trucks that run on Thursday will pick up trash Saturday. Trash service was running a day behind due to the New Year’s holiday.

Lonoke interim Police Chief Randy Mauk said the roads were clear and no accidents had been reported.

Ward Street Department Director Randy Staley said the main roads were good. The city had the salt and sand spreader and snow-blade truck ready Thursday. Crews started working on the roads around 6:30 a.m. Staley, who is also the fire chief, said the fire department had not been called to any accidents due to the icy weather.

Leader staff writer Jeffrey Smith contributed to this report.