Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declares state of emergency due to ice storm
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has declared a state of emergency in Arkansas due to the recent blast of wintry weather that covered roadways with treacherous ice and contributed to a fatal crash in Benton County.
An executive order will provide funds for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to help with the ice storm response.
Refreezing overnight left black ice on roads in western and northwestern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma from a Monday ice storm.
More wintry weather is in the forecast.
National Guard deployed, fatal crash reported
On Monday, Arkansas State Police reported a fatality in the ice storm in Benton County.
About 4:35 a.m., James Edward Sawyer, 60, of Rogers, died when the tractor-trailer he was driving slid on ice on Guyll Ridge Road at Fire Run Road in Garfield.
Sawyer's rig was hauling a 30,000-pound piece of equipment when the truck overturned and landed on the passenger side, state police reported in a fatal accident summary. There was freezing rain at the time of the accident, state police reported.
Arkansas National Guard teams organized with Humvees and soldiers worked around the clock to assist motorists.
Soldiers from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade rescued a stranded motorist on Interstate 49 Monday afternoon and helped the driver get back on the road, spokesman Bob Oldham said.
Guardsmen remained on active duty Tuesday, assisting Arkansas State Police in northwest Arkansas by assisting travelers as inclement weather strikes the region.
Teams of five soldiers assisted the Arkansas State Police in Lowell and in Fort Smith, Oldham reported.
Blood emergency declared
Due to the ice storm, a blood shortage emergency was announced by Our Blood Institute.
"Our Blood Institute is facing a dangerous emergency blood shortage. Arkansas’ blood supply was already at critical levels last week and now, with two weather situations in six days, OBI is issuing an immediate plea for donors of all blood types," according to a news release from OBI.
Blood supplies statewide remain well below the necessary three- to five-day supply. OBI needs 1,200 blood donations each day to maintain an ample supply of blood for area hospitals. The institute, known as the sixth-largest independent blood center in the nation, supports the inventory for patients in over 40 major hospitals & air ambulances in Arkansas, the news release states.
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Fort Smith area school closings, Hogs basketball
Motorists were urged to be cautious Tuesday if traveling to the 6 p.m. basketball game between The University of Arkansas and Texas A&M University in Fayetteville. The game was expected to be played as scheduled.
Fort Smith Public Schools remained on a remote learning plan for Tuesday. The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus was closed as was the UA campus in Fayetteville.
Greenwood and Van Buren schools switched to a remote learning plan in Arkansas. Arkoma, Muldrow and Roland announced virtual learning days Tuesday in Oklahoma.
The Tuesday night Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting was canceled.
Fort Smith Mayor George McGill's state of the city address planned at UAFS Wednesday was postponed.
The forecast from the National Weather Service Tuesday showed the possibility of more snow, sleet and freezing rain. A winter weather advisory was in effect until 6 p.m. in eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. Slick roadways were expected to affect morning and evening commutes. Drivers were urged to slow down on icy roadways.
Power outages had not been widespread as of Tuesday morning, with about 10 outages reported in Paris, Arkansas by Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.
Fort Smith weather forecast
The National Weather Service reported sleet mixed with freezing rain was expected before 3 p.m. Tuesday, then a slight chance of sleet followed.
Wednesday, temperatures will warm up to 36 degrees, the weather service reported. On Thursday the temperature will be 46 degrees and Friday was expected to be sunny with a temperature of 51 degrees.
Check swtimes.com for updates.
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas Governor declares state of emergency with winter ice storm