Though Arkansas is not expected to see more winter precipitation until Sunday, below freezing temperatures in the next couple of days still pose a danger to the state’s roadways.
The ice storm, which traveled through the state late Wednesday into Thursday morning, brought snow, freezing rain and sleet. According to the state Department of Transportation’s I Drive Arkansas website, as of Thursday evening, the majority of roads in northeast Arkansas still had either slush, patches of ice or even ice coating them. Roads as south as Pine Bluff were impacted by the storm system.
Dave Parker, spokesman for the department, said though they are not expecting more precipitation until late in the weekend, crews will be working to get the current ice and snow off of roads before even colder temperatures arrive.
"When that really, really cold air comes in Friday night, Saturday morning, [We will do all we can to get] most of this off the roadways at least because when it’s highs in the mid-teens to low 20s, there’s not a lot you can do with anything," Parker said.
He says the below-freezing temperatures will continue to make road conditions hazardous, even as road conditions improve.
"I would like to think that by Saturday, Sunday most of the major roads and highways are in pretty good shape. It’s just going to be brutal cold, and then what, 12 hours of no precipitation and then Monday here comes some snow potentially," Parker said.
While the storm system moved into the state Wednesday, Parker said crews had been working to pre-treat roads earlier in the week.
"We were out Sunday pre-treating with salt brine," he said, "higher elevation areas that are prone to ice, certainly to the interstates, because we were watching the forecast last weekend and saw the potential for this."
Now, with the pre-treatment work done, Parker says a lot of the work now is plowing roads to remove the slush, snow and ice.
Parker says while it was a "busy day" when it came to accidents on Thursday, he believes a majority of Arkansans heeded the department’s warnings and stayed home.
"It seemed like everyone took this as serious as they should. While this isn’t a major storm by any means, anytime you get snow and ice in Arkansas, it’s very, very serious and can be dangerous," Parker said.
With many people nearing the one year anniversary of working from home due to the pandemic, Parker says fewer people commuting to and from work probably helped "a bit" to reduce accidents due to the slick roads.
As far as any damage to the roads from the storm, Parker said any time moisture gets below the pavement, there is the potential for potholes to develop. However, he said the weather will need to warm up before any repairs can be made.