LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Sleet, snow and freezing rain began to finish a two-day trek across Arkansas on Friday but a blast of bitterly cold air and more precipitation was expected to hit the state before it could thaw.
The wintery weather downed trees and power lines, made highways slick, knocked out power to 44,000 utility customers and contributed to two deaths in the state.
Meteorologists were looking ahead to Saturday, with forecast lows near zero in northwest Arkansas, where sleet and snow blanketed the ground. Overnight temperatures were forecast to nudge the single digits in central Arkansas, which had hours of freezing rain and sleet. Lows were to dip to the 20s in the state's southern reaches.
The National Weather Service late Friday afternoon was preparing to post a wind chill advisory for northern Arkansas, where the breeze would make it feel like 10 or 15 degrees below zero.
"If you have an elderly friend or relative without power, it might be a good time to have them over for a visit," said John Robinson, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.
There's a chance of freezing rain across the state Saturday into Sunday. Robinson said temperatures will be so low that any rain hitting the ground will freeze immediately.
New amounts of freezing rain will be around one-tenth of an inch, but that's enough to send motorists spinning. And any melting in the following days will be undone at night.
"We're going to be talking about (roads) refreezing for quite a few nights to come," Robinson said.
John Moore, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Memphis, Tenn., said parts of northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel had received 7 inches of snow by Friday afternoon. That snow was falling on top of a layer of ice of up to 2 inches in parts of northeast Arkansas, he said.
Between one-quarter and three-quarters of an inch of freezing rain accumulated in western and central Arkansas, sending vehicles sliding off roadways.
Robinson said the wind that comes with the cold blast could do additional damage.
"I'm sure a few more trees will fall over in places where they have ice," he said.
Authorities said one person died in Pope County when a tree fell on a camper near Dover. The victim's name wasn't released.