Ice, sleet shut down business, government offices; knocks power out to thousands in NEA

by George Jared ([email protected]) 1,792 views 

A powerful winter storm swept through Northeast Arkansas early Thursday (Feb. 3) morning shutting down businesses, knocking out power to thousands, and creating treacherous driving conditions on virtually every road in the region. The National Weather Service reported that up to a half-inch of ice was projected to form on many power lines and trees, which could impact electric services.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver issued a statement Thursday morning announcing that sanitation trucks and the JETS public bus system had suspended services due to the inclement weather. All city offices were closed as more sleet and freezing continued to fall throughout the day. Copenhaver asked residents to avoid driving if possible.

“Conditions will worsen as cars pack the ice on the roads making them more dangerous. If you must drive, please avoid city and state vehicles sweeping main thoroughfares and highways,” he said.

Thousands were without power as the winter storm enveloped the region. Entergy reported more than 10,000 of its customers statewide were without power, and at least 3,864 of them were in Poinsett County, mostly in the Trumann area which was ravaged by a powerful tornado in December. In Jonesboro, City Water and Light and Craighead Electric had no reported outages as of Thursday morning.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation reported that all major highways in the region were completely covered in ice. That includes U.S. 67 that connects the region to Little Rock and U.S. 63 or I-555 that connects to I-55, the route toward Memphis. I-55 leading into Memphis was listed as slushy.

All school districts in the region were shut down. Universities and colleges such Arkansas State University, Williams Baptist University and Blakc River Technical College suspended classes, likely through the end of the week.

Conditions are projected to improve once the storm subsides, according to NWS. Temperatures on Friday (Feb. 4) are projected to hover near the freezing mark and it’s supposed to be sunny which will help melt off the power lines and roads. Temperatures are projected to continue to rise throughout the weekend.