Little Rock - A powerful storm system could bring more than a half-foot of snow to Arkansas, marking the fifth episode of severe winter weather in the past month for a state that can go an entire season without receiving major wintry precipitation.

More than 6 inches of snow was expected in western and central Arkansas. National Weather Service meteorologist Tabitha Clarke said beleaguered far northwest Arkansas would escape the worst of the storm.

The highest snow totals are expected to be in the Ouachita Mountains in western and southwestern Arkansas.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Mike Beebe ordered only essential personnel to report to state offices in Little Rock.

And many school districts have canceled classes for Wednesday.