NWA Weather Authority Severe Weather Risk for Northwest Arkansas/River Valley


The latest severe weather risk is currently ENHANCED (LEVEL 3 out of 5) for most of the Northwest Arkansas/River Valley area.

 The active storm season continues and now we’ve got another round of storms headed our way for Wednesday. It appears we will see multiple rounds of storms, including one in the late morning followed by another round during the late afternoon into the evening hours. The system moving in is rather potent and will bring the potential for some significant severe weather.

The setup:  A very intense upper-level low in the Southern Plains is continuing to slowly progress eastward.  At the surface, abundant low-level moisture continues to stream northward due to strong southeasterly winds. At the same time, a warm front will be lifting northward throughout the afternoon into the evening, eventually making it into Southwest Missouri. Along and south of the warm front and east of the dryline, thunderstorms are expected to rapidly develop in the Eastern Oklahoma/Northwest Arkansas area during the afternoon into the early evening.   Strong low-level winds will bring the potential for rotating thunderstorms.

The threats:  We will experience the potential for all threats from the storms on Wednesday afternoon into the evening.  Strong low-level winds will create very favorable conditions for rotating thunderstorms and tornadoes. If the storms remain isolated, large hail will also be a threat.  Damaging straight-line winds will be possible with any bowing line segments.  Finally, due to the heavy rains over the past week plus, flash flooding will also be possible with the heavier rain amounts in the thunderstorms.

The timing:  There will be 3 rounds of storms most likely for Wednesday.  The first round looks to miss most of Northwest Arkansas early Wednesday morning shortly after midnight lasting until about 3 AM. The second round of storms under a marginal severe threat looks to move in during the mid-morning (morning commute time) until about 10 AM. The third and most significant round could move in as early as 3 PM, but will most likely be during a time window of 5 PM until about 10 PM.  The timing could change with these storms and I’ll provide an update in the late morning.

 The unknowns:  As always with any severe weather event, there is always the possibility that certain ingredients do not come together, which lessens the severe weather potential.  One of the uncertainties is be the amount of cloud cover and rain coverage during the afternoon.  If we remain cloudy and cool and temperatures don’t warm up much, the severe weather threat will be much less. If the sky does start to clear and we see abundant sunshine Wednesday afternoon, the storms moving in Wednesday evening could pack a serious punch. That will be the determining factor in the severity of our storms Wednesday evening.

 Please have a severe weather plan in place as timing could be early afternoon if storms move in earlier than expected.

 As always, here’s a link to the latest severe weather threat for the Day One Convective Outlook, which will be updated at 1 AM, 8 AM, 11:30 AM, and 3 PM. 

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