LITTLE ROCK — Winter weather conditions blanketed much of the state with sleet and freezing rain early Tuesday, closing schools and state buildings but causing no major damage, state police said.

LITTLE ROCK — Winter weather conditions blanketed much of the state with sleet and freezing rain early Tuesday, closing schools and state buildings but causing no major damage, state police said.


Weather conditions were expected to improve by sunset, but thousands of customers who were without power were not expected to be restored until late into the night, according to Entergy and electric cooperatives.


Roads that were slick due to ice accumulations caused problems early. State police spokesman Bill Sadler said the worst problems occurred along Interstate 30 in downtown Little Rock, mainly because of the location. I-30 along Cantrell Road and a stretch just north of the river were closed for a time.


A number of crashes were reported across Arkansas, particularly in the northwest part of the state, but because of the snow that moved into the area over the weekend and warnings about expectation of ice Tuesday, there was a noticeable lack of traffic on the highways, Sadler said.


Along U.S. 65, a couple of semi-tractor trailers were blocking traffic north of Marshall on Tuesday afternoon. Troopers assigned to Harrison were reporting some motor vehicle crashes because of ice and in western Arkansas, slick highways were reported along U.S. 270 west of Mount Ida, he said.


"Other than that, there haven’t been as significant events such as fatalities," Sadler said. "In general, it seems motorists really heeded the warning about what was moving in and there haven’t been a lot of major accidents to report."


Still, more than 40,000 electricity residents were without power Tuesday afternoon, nearly 37,000 of them Entergy customers.


Entergy spokesman Julie Munsel said the hardest hit were Garland County with 7,629 without power. Mississippi County had 4,758 in the dark, Conway County 3,602 and Montgomery County 2,003.


"We have pockets in the southwest, northwest and northeast regions of the territory," Munsel said.


"At this point, we’re hoping to have a majority back on by sometime this evening — late this evening," she said.


Entergy said it hoped to have some of the power back on by Tuesday night but warned that others could remain without power until Thursday or Friday.


First Electric Cooperative had about 3,600 without power in Central Arkansas, and Craighead Electric Cooperative in northeastern Arkansas also reported scattered outages Tuesday afternoon.


The National Weather Service reported freezing rain from Little Rock northeast. That was expected to change over to mostly light rain by late afternoon and to begin moving slowly out of the state shortly after sunset. No precipitation was forecast Tuesday night, with lows in the mid-20s and highs Wednesday in the upper 30s under partly sunny skies.