Snow falls in May in NW Arkansas, latest ever

5/3/2013 1:45 PM
By Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Northwest Arkansas residents woke up to as much as 5 inches of snow in places on the third day in May, the latest snowfall on record in the state.

The record isn't expected to last. The National Weather Service predicted Friday that more snow was on the way for Saturday.

Arkansas also was on pace to set record low temperatures on Friday, and more records were likely to fall on Saturday.

"For two days in a row we're going to have ridiculously cool temperatures in the 40s and 50s when we should be in the 70s," said meteorologist John Lewis of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock. "We're way, way below normal," Lewis said.

Normal temperatures likely won't return until Wednesday, he said.

"On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, we're going to have a warming trend. But when you're this far below normal, it takes a while to get to where you're supposed to be," Lewis said.

Wet snow collected on grass and on leafy tree limbs but melted on the roads, thanks to relatively warm ground temperatures. Plenty of people took pictures of snow on their cars and trucks, some having carved the date into the accumulation for posterity.

Parts of Benton County got up to 5 inches of snow, according to the weather service. One to 3 inches fell elsewhere in Benton County and generally in Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Washington counties.

The weather service office in North Little Rock says the latest snow accumulation on record was at Corning on April 24, 2010, and the latest trace was at Fayetteville, Gravette, and Harrison on April 30, 1903.

Temperatures warmed enough and the ground temperature was high enough to prevent significant problems on Arkansas roads, but air temperatures were cool enough for snow to accumulate on elevated surfaces, such as grass.

That went for artificial grass, too. Photographs showed a dusting of snow on the field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium at the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.

Jane Maginot of Washington County works as an extension program associate for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and grows vegetables to sell at Fayetteville farmers markets. Maginot said she was able to cover some of her plants, but she didn't escape damage to her zucchini.

"Even if they made it through today (Friday), I think tonight will be their end game. We just planted them and they were probably 3 inches tall. I'm going to have to rip them all out," Maginot said. "It's the life of a farmer, right?"

Lewis also noted that trees that have sprouted their leaves for spring are more likely to lose limbs to snow buildup.

Several regional high school baseball and softball tournament games were postponed because of the cold and rain.

Enough rain fell near Jonesboro to warrant closure of part of Arkansas 226 due to high water.

Parts of east Arkansas got up to 3 inches of rain, just in time for planting row crops. Growers were more concerned about the temperatures, which neared freezing in places.

Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the winter wheat crop is flowering, which makes it particularly vulnerable to freeze damage.

"Temperatures down to 30 degrees just for a little while could cause significant damage," Kelley said. "Fortunately most forecasts are calling for lows that will be above freezing, hopefully we can dodge another bullet."


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