Snow, Sleet Close Arkansas Schools; Tornado Watches Posted for Georgia, Alabama

Sleet and deep snow made Arkansas roads slippery Tuesday and closed some schools as stormy weather stretched across the region.

Up to 13 inches of snow fell at Russellville in west-central Arkansas, the National Weather Service said.

Some 18-wheelers had trouble negotiating roads and authorities urged motorists to stay home.

"If trips can be delayed until later today conditions should be much improved," said Arkansas Highway Department spokesman Randy Ort.

Arkansas' weather was part of a band of snow and rain stretching from the southern Plains to northern New England. The National Weather Service posted winter storm warnings across sections of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois, with winter weather advisories along the Great Lakes.

Voting sites in Ohio were busy for Tuesday's presidential primaries despite heavy rain across the state, with some sleet in the Cleveland area. Parts of southern Ohio had received 2 inches of rain in just four hours and flood warnings were posted throughout the state.

In Arkansas, Jamie Funes said Marco's Pan Bakery in Russellville would not open Tuesday.

"No one is going to get from their house today," Funes said.

Up to 8 inches of snow fell in parts of southwest Missouri, snarling the morning commute in the St. Louis and Springfield areas.

"The closer you get to Springfield, the worse it is," said Bob Edwards of the Missouri Transportation Department. "They have a real snowpack."

Highways also were slippery across the eastern half of Oklahoma.

Thunderstorms spread through the Southeast, and the weather service issued tornado watches Tuesday for most of Georgia, western North Carolina and east-central Alabama.

Flash flooding forced some people to briefly evacuate rural homes around the Alabama community of Collirene, said Lowndes County Sheriff Chip Williams. Powerful wind was blamed for uprooting trees and damaging roofs in other sections of Alabama.