“Later today and tonight when the snow kicks up, we would expect the conditions to deteriorate,” he said.
In western Arkansas, between Fort Smith and De Queen, highway officials reported ice and snow on roads, including the major north-south route of U.S. Highway 71. And in parts of central Arkansas, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled as freezing rain fell and stuck to trees.
In Oklahoma, all of Interstate 40, which bisects the state from east to west, was slick because rain was freezing as soon as it hit the pavement, Randolph said.
After the Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut down I-40 near its junction with I-35, troopers diverted traffic while the debris could be cleared. Interstate 40 also was closed for a time near Clinton in western Oklahoma because of overturned vehicles, as well as the eastbound lanes about 10 miles east of Shawnee because of a jackknifed tractor-trailer.
Traffic was light because most people had already reached their holiday destinations, “but the ones that are out there are having trouble staying on the road,” she said.
“We're really discouraging travel,” she added. “If you don't have to get out, don't.”