Severe Thunderstorms will be possible Saturday night and Sunday, mainly in the southeast parts of Arkansas, according to Brian Smith of the National Weather Service office in Little Rock.
Low pressure is expected to develop to the southwest of Arkansas on Saturday. Then, by Saturday evening, the developing low will push a warm front into Arkansas, and the low will move into the state as well, bringing scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms Saturday night and Sunday, with severe thunderstorms possible.
Current thinking is that there will be several modes of storms, with an initial round of cells along and north of the boundary as it moves into southern and central Arkansas during the late afternoon and early evening. With these storms, large hail in excess of one inch in diameter will be the primary threat with any severe cells that develop.
As the surface low moves into the state, it will drag a stronger cold front into Arkansas. More showers and thunderstorms will develop ahead of the front during the overnight hours. With the close proximity of the surface low, wind shear and low level energy will increase quite a bit, and this will lead to the risk of a brief, weak tornado or two during the overnight hours Saturday and into the early morning Sunday. The greatest risk for tornadoes will be in areas along and east of Interstate 30 and along and south of Interstate 40. At this time, it looks like the highest tornado threat, however, would be east of Arkansas in northern Mississippi. Large hail will also remain a threat with any severe storms that develop.
After the storms ahead of the front, there may be a brief lull in activity. However, additional showers and thunderstorms will be possible behind the cold front, as a strong upper level low pressure area traverses the state. With very cold air in the upper levels moving into the region, very large hail of two inches in diameter will be the primary concern from any severe storms.
The threat of thunderstorms will be ending by mid to late afternoon Sunday, as the upper level system moves east of the state.
Keep in mind that this forecast is based on the latest model data. The forecast may change to a degree between now and Saturday. Be sure to monitor the latest forecasts from your National Weather Service Forecast Office for details regarding this potentially hazardous weather.
UPDATED OUTLOOK as of 1/21/17 11:16am…
The Storm Prediction Center has increased the severe weather risk to moderate across southern portions of the state. However, the entire state of Arkansas is under the gun for the threat of severe thunderstorms.
The storms are in response to a strong upper level low to our west. With the low to our west, a disturbance in the southwest flow aloft along with an approaching cold front will be the trigger for the development of strong and severe storms.
The storms are expected to affect southwest portions of AR around 5 or 6 pm and then become better organized as the activity moves north during the evening hours. Most likely time for the storms to affect the Little Rock metro area is between 8 pm and midnight.