FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Severe thunderstorms, capable of producing large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes, will be possible Friday morning into the early afternoon hours across Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley. Additionally, a few strong storms may fire off Thursday afternoon, with gusty winds and large hail the main concerns.
Thursday Afternoon – Evening
A weak disturbance will swing towards Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley Thursday afternoon into the evening, bringing the chance for showers and a few thunderstorms. Some of these storms could be severe, though the lack of surface-based instability will keep the overall risk low. Gusty winds and large hail would be the main concerns with this initial round of precipitation, with locally heavy rainfall possible with any storms that do take off. These storms will be quick moving in nature, so outdoor plans could be delayed, but not completely washed out during the afternoon hours. The favored time frame for thunderstorm development will be from 3 P.M. – 10 P.M.
Friday Morning – Afternoon
A much stronger storm system will begin to push through the area Friday morning, bringing a higher risk of severe weather. Currently, far eastern portions of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley are under an Enhanced Risk for severe weather (Level 3 of 5). These areas will have the highest chance to see severe thunderstorms, some of which could be significant. Farther west, the entire I-49 corridor is under a Slight Risk for severe weather (Level 2 of 5) throughout the event Friday. While the severe weather potential is lower in these locations, the entire coverage area will have the chance to see all hazards, including damaging winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes.
Most of the model guidance is in good agreement that storms will begin to fire around 7 A.M. – 10 A.M. Friday, with the severe potential rapidly increasing throughout the morning. The environment will support a more linear storm mode, so the damaging wind potential will increase rather quickly. Any storms that can tap into surface-based instability would have the possibility to produce tornadoes, however the timing of the system could limit the potential. As this setup favors QLCS spin-ups, favorable storm motions could also increase the tornado risk. Storms should move out of the area by about 2 P.M. tomorrow, which will keep the flash flooding risk very low. If you have outdoor plans during the morning Friday, it would be a good idea to delay them to the afternoon!
Looking Ahead To Next Tuesday
Once the system pushes through Friday, beautiful weather will hang around for Saturday and most of the day Sunday. However, a significant warming trend and deep low-level moisture return early next week could set the stage for a significant severe weather episode across the entire KNWA/FOX 24 coverage area. While it is still too far out for specifics, this particular system has the potential to cause problems, so stay tuned to the latest forecasts as more details become available.
As always, stay weather aware as we head into Friday morning, and be prepared in case severe weather strikes. You can find the latest information by downloading the Weather Authority App below, or by following the weather team on social media! Stay safe everyone!
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