An ice storm warning is in effect for much of the state from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday. The warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected.
In the Little Rock area, National Weather Service Meteorologist Julie Lesko said, "we will probably see it closer to daybreak, maybe within one or two hours of dawn, probably starting when it’s already a little dark outside. Temperatures will probably be right about the freezing mark then, so there might not be any initial impacts, but as we go through the day Friday, surface temperatures will continue to fall and by late morning through the afternoon hours, traveling will become hazardous across much of central Arkansas.”
The forecast prompted school officials with the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School Districts to cancel classes Friday. A number of universities, including the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will also be closed.
Lesko says there will be a significant amount of ice accumulation.
“Highest amounts probably will be from Mena to Conway up to Batesville, with half an inch to three-quarters of an inch possible of ice. Down to the metro (Little Rock) area, maybe closer to the quarter inch to half an inch is expected to accumulate,” Lesko said.
Late Thursday afternoon, Gov. Mike Beebe declared a statewide disaster . That, a statement from his office said, will ease restrictions on utility crews, fuel haulers and propane deliveries. The governor also released $100,000 from his disaster fund to help in the initial response to the storm.
Periodic rounds of freezing precipitation are forecast to occur throughout the weekend, before clearing out Sunday. Temperatures will also continue dropping, with a forecast low Friday night of 17. Sunny skies are forecast by Monday, but temperatures will get even colder that night, with a low of 13 expected.