Share This Article
While many residents are still trying to thaw out from last week’s snowstorm, another day of winter weather has decided to pay Mountain Home and Northern Arkansas a visit.
While last week’s burst of Artic air brought fresh powered snow, today’s round of weather is expected to be in the forming of freezing rain and ice, with impacts to Monday morning commuters.
On Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service placed Mountain Home underneath a winter weather advisory, with an ice potential of as much as .32 inches of ice on top of what little ice remains on the road from last week’s snowstorm.
Residents are urged to take precautions while traveling to work in the morning. Locations that receive over a quarter inch of ice should expect power outages due to downed power lines.
Temperatures will remain frigid during the morning hours but should rise to above freezing around noon. The warmer temperatures will usher in several days of rain in Mountain Home.
At the time of writing, Mountain Home Public Schools has not announced school closures. Cotter Public Schools also remains open at this time. Cotter’s school district has also announced that students will be in the classroom this Friday to make up for a snow day from last week.
Last week’s round of Artic weather brought in roughly 4-5 inches of snow in Mountain Home and 6-8 inches in Southern Baxter County, resulting in several snow days among the county’s school districts.
Baxter County beat estimates from weather forecasters who only predicted 1-3 inches for Northern Arkansas.
Like snowstorms, predicting ice storms is difficult due to models over-predicting how much ice will accumulate during a given storm. Ice storms are also hard to predict because forecasters cannot confirm that freezing rain is forming ice until it begins to accumulate on the ground.
Ice forms from freezing rain, when raindrops fall through a layer of air that’s warmer than freezing that is situated above a shallow layer of subfreezing air down at the surface. The water freezes on contact with any surface it hits, forming a buildup of ice.
Measuring ice to submit a report can be tricky. Ice does not form evenly on the surface it accretes on.
Due to gravity, water will often run to the bottom of an object, such as a tree branch, before freezing. Wind can also make ice form unevenly. Because of these effects, one side of an object will have thicker ice than the other.
Weather models show regular raindrops in the lead-up to an ice storm and it is often left to a meteorologist’s discernment to determine if the conditions are right for ice buildup.
Another issue with ice storms is convincing the public to take them seriously. For example, when snowstorms bring in 3 to 6 inches of snow, it’s easy to convince the public that roads will be slick. But when told to be careful over fractions of an inch of ice, many residents will put it out of their minds.
Ice storms are more likely to cause accidents and damage to an area’s electric grid.
Baxter County’s last “big” ice storm occurred in 2009. That storm brought in 1 to 2 inches of ice accumulation, bringing down power poles and trees in the area. Some residents had trees and power lines fall on their homes. Only 10 businesses were open during that period.
Altogether, the 2009 storm cost taxpayers $6 million to clean up.