If you haven’t heard yet, strong to severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday. We are still a few days out from this intense weather system, so the exact details still remain a little unclear, BUT widespread thunderstorm development is looking likely Saturday morning.
Below is a look at the potent upper-level system that will be moving in from the SW late Friday night into Saturday morning. This system will have a VERY STRONG jet stream along with strong wind shear, which will be able to interact with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. This is a recipe for intense organized thunderstorms, so we are watching Saturday’s forecast closely.
One of the key ingredients for intense storms is instability (a.k.a. CAPE). At this point, most computer models show this “fuel” for strong surface-based storms remains south of the NWA area by Saturday morning. This means the greater threat for significant severe will be south of the warm front in the “warm sector” positioned in the southern River Valley along with central and southern AR.
The speed of this system could change, but for now it appears the greatest potential for storms will be Saturday morning from 8 AM until 1 PM at the latest. IF the upper-level system slows down just 6 hours, it would mean the instability would be able to travel farther north into NWA and therefore change the timing of the storms. So needless to stay… STAY TUNED.
Once the storm system blows through… the non-thunderstorm winds will be intense to say the least. Our area will remain south of this low pressure system that looks to undergo bombogenesis (yes that is a real weather term). When a low pressure system “bombs out,” it means a pressure drop of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. This drop in pressure will CRANK up the wind machine out of the WSW with gusts possibly up to 40+ mph in the NWA area.
So to sum it up, the timing & location can change as we get closer to the weekend. Now is the time to get Weather Ready and be aware of storm potential Saturday morning. Keep it here with your Weather Authority for the latest updates on the timing. –Chief Meteorologist Dan Skoff