JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Several inches of snow have piled on top of a layer of sleet across the Region 8 viewing area, and the entire Arkansas highway system is covered in either snow or ice. Overnight, Jonesboro police worked several accidents and worked several "stranded" motorists. This after a winter storm forced the Arkansas National Guard to activate personnel to assist with Arkansas State Police.
The guard Wednesday deployed humvees to portions of Interstate 55. The guard is assisting Arkansas State Police across the state. More than 100 guard members were called to duty, including members of the 875th Engineer Battalion in Jonesboro.
Eight soldiers are assisting in the Newport area using 4 humvees. Eight other soldiers are helping in Forrest City.
Jeff Presley with Craighead County E911 said, as of 5:00 p.m., officials worked 5 accidents with no injuries, 1 accident with injuries and a total of 8 vehicles slid into ditches. Presley also said 1 person hit a utility pole, shutting down both lanes of Highway 63 near Southwest Drive.
Below are messages from Presley regarding Wednesday's accidents:
- Police & Rescue dispatched to Dan Ave @ the American Legion area, accident with injuries. Please stay home if all possible, the roadways are very dangerous .
- Vehicles reported in the ditch in the area of Harrisburg & Windover, Police dispatched.
- Airport RD & Aggie area SUV in the ditch, Police dispatched.
- Police dispatched to the intersection of Red Wolf & Aggie RD. MVA, no injuries. Traffic is backed up.
- HWY 63 blocked by downed power poles southbound Southwest DR area both lanes blocked. Crews dispatched.
- Reports coming in : Hwy 63 north of Bono, vehicles in the ditch, State Police dispatched.
- Police on the scene vehicles off the roadway HWY 18 East @ Black Oak curve. VERY slick in this area.
- Hwy 163 @ CR 480 (just north of the Poinsett County line. Accident with injuries. Traffic will be slowed. Police & Rescue dispatched.
- Accident reported Goobertown area on HWY 49-No injury. Police dispatched.
- We have stuck/stranded vehicles on North Patrick-HWY 351-and South Caraway RD. Please use EXTREME caution if you must be out this afternoon & tonight.
- Reports on HWY 351 north of hill-top area: 2-cars in the ditch. Police dispatched. Please use caution!
- Patrol units advising the Main street overpass @ Johnson is VERY slick, we have dispatched sand trucks.
- Hwy 91 Area of Cache River bridge area (South of Egypt) Car submerged in water (road ditch) Mother and children safely out of the vehicle. Police & EMS dispatched.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management has also opened a state emergency operations center to handle the storm. Every county in Arkansas is under a Winter Storm Warning.
In Lawrence County, the county's office of emergency services stated highway department personnel are working slick sports on Highway 67 near Highway 63 at the Highway 117 intersection. At least 1 vehicle slid off the road.
In southeast Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported to KFVS that 10 cars have piled up on Highway 67 northbound, just north of Poplar Bluff.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol and multiple other law enforcement agencies asks those in the Heartland to stay off the roads if you don't have to travel. In Stoddard County, Highway 60 West was blocked when two tractor trailers crashed with an SUV. According to Sgt. Clark Parrott with the MSHP, there have been 34 stranded drivers and 11 crashes as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
If you are walking on the snow/ice, emergency responders offer these tips:
- Plan ahead and give yourself sufficient time.
- When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
- When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.
- Bending your knees a little and taking slower and shorter steps increases traction and can greatly reduce your chances of falling. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.
- Streets and sidewalks that have been cleared of snow and ice should still be approached with caution. Look out for "black ice." Dew, fog or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces and form an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement. It often shows up early in the morning or in areas that are shaded from the sun.
- Carrying heavy items can challenge your sense of balance. Try not to carry too much--you need to leave your hands and arms free to better balance yourself.
- Be prepared to fall and try to avoid using your arms to break your fall. If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head doesn't strike the ground with a full force.
- When entering a building, remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can. Take notice that floors and stairs may be wet and slippery--walk carefully.
- Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles--use the vehicle for support.
When driving, use the following tips:
- Avoid travel unless necessary when winter weather is in your area
- If you do have to travel, call 511 for current road conditions
- Slow down
- Always wear your seat belt
- Driving considerations
- Leave early - allow more travel time and expect delays
- Increase distance between vehicles. It takes significantly longer to stop on snow covered or icy roadways
- Clear all windows on your vehicle prior to travel. Having unobstructed vision is vital to avoid running off of the road or having a collision.
- Turn on your vehicle's headlamps. Remove any dirt, mud or snow.
- Use caution on bridges and overpasses they are susceptible to freezing before roadways.
- Avoid using cruise control. It can cause the vehicle's wheels to continue turning on a slippery surface when speed needs to be decreased. Same goes with diesel vehicles equipped with an engine exhaust brake.
- Be Prepared
- Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas in the event you are stranded for an extended period of time.
- Charge your cellular phone prior to departure and keep a charger in your vehicle.
- Take a blanket.
- Notify a family member or a friend of your travel plans prior to departure – if your travel is interrupted, someone will know.
- Be patient. Bad weather also limits the capabilities of law enforcement officers and emergency crews and increases response time. Also, keep in mind that they will be experiencing a high volume of requests for service.
- Attempt to move your vehicle out of the roadway if you are involved in a minor, non-injury traffic collision; especially if you are in a dangerous area such as a curve or a blind hill.
- If your vehicle is stranded or wrecked but not in the roadway, attempts to recover your vehicle will have to wait until conditions improve for safety considerations.