COPY-3 dead in Ark. ice storm; thousands without power

Associated Press - January 27, 2009 3:44 PM ET

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Freezing rain and sleet cover portions of Arkansas with a 3-inch layer of ice, slickening roads and cutting power to at least 85,000 homes and businesses. The weather is being blamed for the deaths of 3 people.

Fifty-6-year-old Terry R. Kelly of Eagle Rock, Missouri, was killed when her sports utility vehicle slid off Highway 62 at Pea Ridge yesterday and she was thrown from the SUV. Emergency officials are reporting two more deaths in central Arkansas.

Iced over limbs cracked off trees and fell onto power lines throughout the Ouachita Mountains -- the hardest hit region of the state. Roads in northern and central Arkansas are icy. Highway 23 south of Huntsville was closed because power lines were down across the road; trees blocked parts of Highway 7 north of Russellville. But most roads remain open.

Dozens of schools, plus a number of universities, closed for the day. They planned to decide later whether to remain closed tomorrow. State government offices in Little Rock, where a cold rain fell, opened two hours late because of the weather. At Fort Smith, a class for severe weather spotters had to be canceled because of the ice.

Forecasters are predicting the weather will get worse. An ice storm warning posted through noon tomorrow predicts additional accumulations of freezing rain and sleet, turning into snow. The National Weather Service is advising drivers to take along food, water and a flashlight in case they became trapped.

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