Sleet and freezing rain beginning across Central Arkansas. Although the ground is too warm for ice to stick, bridges and overpasses will cool off faster. Be very careful if traveling today if you encounter any elevated surface, as it may be icy
A major winter storm taking shape is set to bring significant snowfall to parts of Arkansas today and tonight. Cold air moving into the State is getting drawn into a strengthening low pressure system that will move through Texas and Louisiana today before turning Northeast into the Ohio Valley. This places most of Arkansas on the cold side of the storm.
Rain will quickly turn to snow across Northern and Western Arkansas during the late morning and early afternoon hours. For Central Arkansas, cold rain will begin during the midday hours and may mix with sleet at times.
As the cold air moves South, the rain/snow line will move Southeast into Central Arkansas by the evening. The transition from rain to snow will likely begin around 6 PM in Central Arkansas, mainly North and West of Little Rock.
By 9 PM, the rain/snow line should have pushed through most of the Little Rock metro area with heavy wet snow quickly accumulating. Travel conditions will rapidly deteriorate.
The rain snow line will continue advancing through Eastern Arkansas overnight. The exact timing of the changeover is critical in determining snowfall amounts. An earlier changeover means more snow and a later changeover means less. Snow will begin to diminish across Central Arkansas after Midnight with heavy snow and wind likely for Northeast Arkansas.
The National Weather Service in Little Rock has extended the Winter Storm Warning farther South including most of Central Arkansas. A blizzard warning is in effect for parts of Northeast Arkansas including White and Independence Counties where strong winds tonight will cause blowing snow and low visibility later tonight.
Recent computer model runs show heavier snow a little farther South now. Snow amounts will range from 6 to as much as 10 inches in some spots mainly just North and Northeast of the Little Rock area. As rain changes to heavy wet snow across Central Arkansas late in the evening, a burst of 3 to 6 inches is likely before snow starts tapering off after Midnight. Snowfall amounts will fall off very quickly South and East of Little Rock. Significant snowfall is not likely for Southern Arkansas where most of the precipitation will fall as rain. Below is the snowfall projection for Arkansas through Wednesday morning.
Actual snowfall amounts could vary greatly for Central Arkansas depending on the exact track of the low pressure system, which will determine the timing of the changeover. Even a couple hours difference in the timing of the transition from rain to snow in Central Arkansas will have a large impact on snow amounts.
Travel will quickly become dangerous for Northern Arkansas Tuesday as snow accumulates on roads. Most of Central Arkansas will have a mix of rain and some sleet during the daylight hours on Tuesday, with mostly just wet roads. As snow starts to pick up, travel will begin to become more dangerous during the evening hours, especially after 9 PM. Stay tuned for further updates.
Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.