The cold front that has moved into the Fort Smith region has traveled all the way from the north pole, officials say.
The front, which was expected to bring overnight temperatures down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, is comprised of "chunks of that colder air" that has moved south, according to meteorologist Ray Sondag of the National Weather Service office in Tulsa. Sondag said these temperatures are not common for this time of year.
As of Friday afternoon, Fort Smith was expected to receive thunderstorms and rain overnight Friday and had a 20 percent chance of a wintry mix Saturday. This follows a Friday that consisted of substantial downpours in the city.
Fort Smith had received over 13.73 inches of precipitation since the beginning of this year Friday afternoon, according to Weather Service records. Meteorologist Pete Snyder with the Tulsa office said this is due to "cold fronts interacting with warm humid air from the south."
Sondag said the cold front that has moved into the region today stems from a weather pattern that has moved the cold air from the arctic to the lower 48 United States. Though it is not an annual pattern, this region has experienced similar weather patterns in the past, he said.
"It’s a little unusual for this time of year, but nothing too out of the ordinary," Sondag said.
Sondag said the chance of freezing rain will hit the Fort Smith region around 4 a.m. He said the region might experience sleet Saturday morning.
In light of the weather, Sondag says drivers should "slow down" if approaching a patch of ice on a roadway. He also said plant owners may want to protect them from the weather if they haven't already.
“If it does happen, it’s going to be rather light," Sondag said of the freezing precipitation. "If we do get any ice, it would probably be over a bridge or overpass or something like that. You might see something, but that would probably be the biggest impact you would have."