Several tons of salt were loaded into trucks at the state highway department’s headquarters in Fort Smith Monday, as crews prepared for a Christmas snow storm.
Joe Shipman, District Engineer for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, said his crew is closely monitoring the weather and waiting for the snow storm to arrive before trucks hit the highways.
“We’re loaded to go [Tuesday] with sand and salt at this time,” Shipman said. “The crews have been out off and on through the weekend making final preparations so that we’re ready to go.”
Rain is expected to hit the area Christmas morning, then transition into a mix of sleet and rain before turning into snow by the afternoon, according to Meteorologist Joe Pennington. The heaviest snow will occur in the afternoon and evening hours.
“We expect that from the forecast we’re seeing that in the early morning hours [Tuesday] we will see rain throughout the district,” Shipman said. “With that rain, we wont be able to do pretreatment.”
That’s because the rain would wash the pretreatment off of the roadways. But once they start seeing snow, the trucks will hit the road.
“Crews will begin coming in as early as 6 in the morning based on the current forecast,” Shipman said. “By late morning we should have a full compliment of crew members for the first shift.”
The day crew will stay on the clock for 12 hours, working to clear the roads before switching out with the night crew. A total of 200 workers will be spending their holiday keeping the roads safe in the River Valley.
“Our crews are always ready and available for mobilization in these types of events,” Shipman said. “We replenished our salt piles this fall to be prepared. Now, the crews are ready to go.”
This winter storm will affect much of the 5NEWS viewing area in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas.
To get live updates on the winter storm, click the link: http://5newsonline.com/2012/12/23/live-blog-winter-storm-updates/
Below is a list of phone numbers and web sites to check for road conditions in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and surrounding states.