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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Everybody loves a snow day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

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This time last year, the area was covered with several inches of ice and most people were struggling to adjust to living without electricity. When a winter storm was predicted for the area last week, many wondered if we would see a repeat of the winter of 2009. While this year's storm dumped up to a foot of snow in our region, ice accumulations were low and power outages were sporadic.

Sleet and freezing rain began in the area on Thursday night, turning to snow during the early morning hours on Friday. Snow continued to fall throughout Friday and into early Saturday morning.

On Friday, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared a state of emergency for Arkansas as the winter storm moved into the state with ice and snow. The declaration makes up to $20,000 from the Governor's Disaster Fund available to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Beebe also put in place his Inclement Weather Policy in which only state employees designated as essential were required to report to work.

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Photo by Janie Flynn Zach Flynn decides a rest may be in order after a morning of fun in the snow with his dad, Joe.
The Arkansas National Guard also prepared with personnel and supplies ready to go for emergency response.

Locally, the Arkansas State Police along with local sheriff's departments, urged everyone to stay off the roads except for an extreme emergency.

Throughout the weekend, emergency personnel and wrecker services from several towns were busy helping stranded motorists and pulling vehicles from ditches.

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Photo by Steven Looney A night time adventurer built this snowman on the sidewalk of downtown Thayer.
Highway 63 between Mammoth Spring and Hardy, as well as the hills south of Hardy near the Martin Creek area, were nearly impassible. Many 18-wheelers jack-knifed as they tried to make their way through the area.

At one point on Friday, the state police were asking travelers in that area to stop and wait it out, while salt trucks and graders attempted to keep up with the falling snow. Motels in the area began to fill as most travelers decided to wait until the snow stopped on Saturday. Even then, travel was dangerous as road crews continued to work on the hills trying to make travel possible.

By Sunday, many of the main highways were passable, but side streets and county roads remained packed with heavy snow.

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Photo by Ginger Harris If you looked close enough, deer were plentiful around the area as they searched for food.
The winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow on northern Arkansas, while a mixture of snow and ice encrusted the state's central sections.

The National Weather Service said 12 inches of snow was measured Saturday morning at Evening Shade in Sharp County, while 11 inches fell at Mountain Home.

Further south, Little Rock got just 2 inches of snow, but it fell mostly after freezing rain had coated roads and trees with a quarter-inch or more of ice.

Forecasters said the storm had moved east of the state by Saturday morning, but low temperatures made it unlikely that much of the snow, sleet and ice would melt during the day. They said a warmup was expected to begin Sunday, with highs in the 30s and 40s.

About 370 customers of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative lost power in Izard County on Friday. CEO Mel Coleman said the coop's Pineville substation failed about 2:30 p.m., affecting 1,290 customers. Crews restored power to nearly all customers by 4:45 p.m.

"The cause of the disruption was due to the snowfall collecting on power lines east of Pineville, causing a power line to fail, relaying out the entire substation," Coleman said in a news release.

Coleman said 7 to 10 inches of snow had fallen throughout North Arkansas Electric's service area by late Friday afternoon, with more on the way. He said crews and employees remained on full alert.

By Saturday, the storm had moved out of the area, bringing back warmer temperatures and sunshine. Warmer temperatures continued on Sunday but most area churches called off services because of the road conditions.

Estimated snow totals in the local area, as reported by the National Weather Service were: Melbourne, 9 inches; Evening Shade, 12 inches; Mountain Home, 14 inches; Mount Pleasant, 11 inches; Calico Rock, 5.5 inches; Hardy, 12 inches; and Salem, 8 inches. In Missouri, snow totals were estimated at: Koshkonong, 12 inches; West Plains, 7 inches; Alton, 8 inches; Thayer, 8 inches; and Myrtle, 8 inches.

Fulton County Judge Charles Willett said on Monday, "We've been out on the roads all weekend, and are about half done. We're doing our best to get the snow off the road surfaces, so we can minimize the damage from the melting and re-freezing. We ask that folks just take it easy driving and watch out for ice patches."

Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger said things, "Wasn't as bad as you might have thought. We didn't have that many serious accidents. Some people got hung up on Highway 63, and we did have a big truck turn over there, but no major injuries. Everybody used a lot of common sense I believe. We had a few small fender benders, but no one got hurt seriously. People stayed in I guess, or they drove with a lot of common sense with their driving."

Dillinger said Monday that the main roads in the county are in pretty good shape, but "the back roads are still bad; they're slick. The county has only so much equipment to get over them and the judge has the graders out doing what they can do. I know they're slick."

Local schools were closed on Monday and some still on Tuesday due to the conditions of the county roads which were still snow packed and slick.

Thayer Assistant Police Chief Mike Bunting said everything went smoothly in the city. "The road crews were out late clearing the roads and by 6 p.m. Saturday all our roads were passable. We didn't have any accidents reported to. Everything went well."

Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood said Tuesday that the main roads in the county were in pretty good shape but some of the gravel back roads still had some ice and snow on them as well as lots of mud. "We really had a pretty quiet weekend. I think we faired real well," Underwood said. "Deputies were pretty busy on Friday on Highway 63 between Thayer and the Howell County line when the snow was coming down the hardest, but that slowed down about 9:30 that night. We had several slide offs and a tractor trailer jack-knifed, but no injuries. I think most people stayed off the roads and that and the sun helped get them cleared."

In Missouri, some area schools resumed their regular schedule of classes on Tuesday.



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