LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (NewsNation Now) — A winter storm is expected to bring freezing rain and ice accumulation in parts of the central and southern U.S. this week, including Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri, weather forecasters said.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee for Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. The weather service also issued an ice storm warning for northeast Arkansas, northwest Tennessee and southeast Missouri through Thursday.
Freezing rain could lead to ice accumulation of up to one-half inch, forecasters said. Power outages and tree damage are likely, and travel will likely be difficult and hazardous, forecasters said.
Wind chills may drop into the single digits over the weekend in eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and north Mississippi, forecasters said.
Vaccination centers in areas of Kentucky were closed due to the icy weather.
Officials warned Arkansas residents to drive slowly, especially on the biggest problem areas for ice like bridges and overpasses.
Herman Harper, with Asher Wrecker Service in Little Rock, Arkansas, had some tips for drivers who absolutely have to be out during this weather.
“Just hold on to the steering wheel, don’t jerk the steering wheel, don’t apply the brake at all, let off the gas and just let it coast on through,” said Harper.
More than 125,000 homes and businesses were without electricity Thursday morning, largely in Kentucky and West Virginia, according to the website poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.
Memphis Light, Gas and Water said more than 10,000 customers in the Memphis area were experienced power outages. By Thursday evening that number was down to 4,252.
Meanwhile, officials in central Kentucky were urging people to stay home due to icy conditions.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said state offices would be closed due to the weather. He declared a state of emergency, which he said would free up funding and help agencies coordinate as they respond to reports of slick roads and downed power lines.
Crews were responding to numerous calls of downed icy tree limbs and power lines, Lexington police said in a tweet that urged people not to travel “unless absolutely necessary.”
The ferry that operates between Kentucky and Missouri will remain closed until at least Friday due to icy weather, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said. The Dorena-Hickman Ferry stopped service Wednesday afternoon, the agency said in a news release.
The ferry connects Kentucky 1354 at Hickman with Missouri Route A and Route 77 near Dorena, Missouri. Missouri and Kentucky are the only border states that are not directly connected by a road or bridge. The ferry is the only direct route between the two states.
An ice storm warning is also already in effect effect for portions of southern Kentucky and middle Tennessee through Thursday. Ice has already begun to accumulate in the area with the glaze already around two tenths of an inch by Thursday morning.
The Associated Press, NewsNation affiliates WKRN and KARK contributed to this report.