Frigid air is expected to move into the River Valley region Sunday.
A cold air mass will move across much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains over the weekend. This cold snap will put afternoon high temperatures five to 10 degrees below normal, according to a Friday news release from the National Weather Service.
Fort Smith, which sat at 42 degrees at 3:15 p.m. Friday, is expected to remain below 30 degrees Sunday. The town is expected to have a slight chance of wintry mix that day, according to National Weather Service.
Fort Smith's temperature is expected to drop to 12 degrees on Sunday evening, with a wind chill of 2 degrees on the morning of New Year's Day, according to National Weather Service's Tulsa office.
“I don’t really recall anything this cold since I’ve been with the Red Cross," Tracy McMillan with the American Red Cross' Fort Smith office said. McMillan has been with the Red Cross for two years.
Sebastian County Emergency Management Director Jeff Turner said his team has his road department "stocked up and ready to go" if his department is called on to clean the roads of ice and snow. He said that personnel within his department have also made sure the county's ambulances have snow chains lining the outsides of the tires.
"Our ground is probably gonna be a little bit colder than it has been," Turner said.
Because of the possibility of snow and ice, McMillan recommends Sebastian County residents winterize their vehicles by filling them with blankets, non-perishable food and water. She also recommends making sure their vehicles' batteries are fully charged.
"If people don’t have to get out, I wouldn't," Turner said. "If you do get out, prepare to take longer, slower, and prepare if something does happen, that you can stay warm.”
As for one's residence, Turner recommends that those living in the River Valley have enough food and water on hand in case they are unable to go to a grocery store. McMillan specifically recommends non-perishable foods that don't need to be prepared with kitchen appliances.
McMillan recommends opening up the drawers below the sink before Sunday to prevent the water pipes from freezing. She also recommends that those with an electrical heater keep it from a wall or furniture when in use.
In the case of a mass power outage, Turner says he would "look to the Red Cross."
“If it were to happen, we would most likely start a shelter of our own, and we would put out cots, and we would have food and all of that ready to go," McMillan said.
Overall, Turner recommends that those living in the River Valley prepare to be confined in their homes "for 72 hours."
"We don’t anticipate it to be that kind of event, but any time there’s any kind of inclement weather, whether it’s severe weather or winter weather, that’s kind of our motto that we try to tell people," Turner said.