January 2, 2013 Edition

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Blizzard brings white
Christmas to LawCo.

Plowed snow has been piled high for several days on the edges of Main Street in Walnut Ridge following the Christmas night blizzard that brought over 10 inches of snow to Lawrence County.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

A white Christmas on the wish list of many Lawrence County children became a reality as the area was blanketed in 10 to 14 inches of snow on Dec. 25 and 26.

The National Weather Service began issuing warnings several days in advance that conditions were favorable for a major snowstorm to occur across Arkansas.

A storm system bringing rain and freezing rain began moving out of Texas early on Dec. 25. The precipitation changed to snow during the afternoon and evening when cold air began wrapping around the moisture-laden front as it began moving north-northeast across Arkansas. By Christmas night blizzard conditions were stretching from Polk County to Clay County and into Missouri.

Blizzards are an extremely rare occurrence in Arkansas according to the National Weather Service. A blizzard is defined by the NWS as sustained wind speeds of 35 miles an hour or greater in conjunction with falling snow reducing visibility to a quarter of a mile or less.

The National Weather Service verified that winds gusted to more than 40 mph during the evening of the 25th creating blizzard conditions in Lawrence County with visibility dropping to a quarter mile or less due to falling and blowing snow.

In addition to a foot or more of snow on the ground, snowdrifts of two to three feet compounded the problem for travelers. Numerous accidents were reported during the early hours of Dec. 26 including semi-trucks jackknifing on Highways 63.

"We were lucky that no major accidents occurred," said Sheriff Jody Dotson. "We mostly had people sliding off the road, semi drivers who had difficulties or people who just got stuck."

The heaviest snow fell from west central Arkansas through the central and northeast sections of the state. The highest snow totals in the 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. on Dec 26 included 14 inches in Hoxie and Walnut Ridge. Greene County had 10 inches, Perry County also had 14 inches, White County and Conway County had 13 inches and Garland County had 15.

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