The active weather pattern continues across NW Arkansas and the River Valley Wednesday night & Thursday.
A powerful low-pressure system is moving into the South Central United States and will cause showers and thunderstorms to develop over already saturated ground. This could lead to flash flooding as another 2-3 inches, locally higher amounts, are expected widespread. In addition to the flood threat, there will be potential for strong/severe storms Wednesday night and Thursday as a warm front moves north into our region.
The severe weather component is HIGHLY DEPENDENT on the location of the warm front. Here is everything you need to know!
Wednesday Evening/Night Severe Weather & Flooding Potential (Before 7 A.M. Thursday)
As of 4:30 P.M. Wednesday, the Storm Prediction Center has the entire area under a risk for severe weather Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. The threat levels increase as you move to the west with the greatest risk just outside our coverage area in central & eastern Oklahoma.
Breaking down the individual threats, a low risk for tornadoes is present in our eastern Oklahoma counties with the threat decreasing as you move east. Damaging straight-line winds will be our main concern with large hail also possible. Just like the tornado threat, the threat decreases the farther east you go.
Flash flooding is a SIGNIFICANT concern overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning. A flood watch has been issued for the majority of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley until 1 P.M. Thursday, May 5.
Widespread 2-3″ of rain, locally higher amounts, will be possible overnight Wednesday and Thursday morning. The Weather Prediction Center’s Excessive Rainfall outlook puts the western half of our area under a level 3/4 risk for flash flooding.
A level 3/4 (moderate) risk means “numerous flash floods are possible” according to the WPC threat scale. Locations in the yellow area are under a slight (2/4) risk which means “scattered flash floods are possible”.
With the ground already saturated from this morning’s storms, it will not take much for the heavy rain to cause flooding. This will likely impact the Thursday morning commute. Remember to never drive through floodwaters! The water may be deeper than it looks and there could be road damage you are unable to see.
Thursday, May 5 Severe Weather & Flood Threat (After 7 A.M.)
The severe weather threat and flash flooding potential continue after 7 A.M. Thursday and through the afternoon. As of late Wednesday afternoon, the Storm Prediction Center has a level 1/5 (marginal) risk clipping our northwestern areas with most of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley under a level 2/5 (slight) risk. An enhanced risk (level 3/5) includes parts of the eastern River Valley, however, the greatest threat is located in central Arkansas.
Looking at the individual threats, a very low tornado threat remains present across our region with damaging straight-line winds being the main severe hazard. A few locations could also see large hail.
The latest Day 2 Excessive Rainfall Outlook shows the potential for isolated flash flooding in Northwest Arkansas and western parts of the River Valley. The Boston Mountains and the Arkansas-side of the River Valley are under a level 2/4 (slight) risk for excessive rainfall on Thursday.
Severe weather and flooding can understandably be frightening for many, but we will be here to get you through the entire event. Just be sure to remain weather aware through Wednesday night and Thursday and continue to monitor the forecast for updates. You can stay up to date on the forecast by downloading our FREE NWA Weather Authority app, following your NWA Weather Authority team on social media, and by tuning into our newscasts on KNWA & FOX24.