FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — 11AM UPDATE (3/2/23): The potential for significant severe weather capable of all hazards continues to look likely for the River Valley this afternoon, while a much lower risk looks possible in Northwest Arkansas. All locations in the KNWA/FOX 24 coverage will see widespread heavy rainfall and the possibility of flooding.
Thursday Afternoon – Friday Morning
The newest Day 1 Convective Outlook continues to show a Moderate Risk (Level 4 of 5) just to the south of our weather coverage area, where a significant severe weather outbreak could take place. The Enhanced Risk (Level 3 of 5) is located over all of Scott county, as well as portions of Le Flore (OK), Logan and Sebastian counties, where the highest threat of severe weather currently resides in our area. The Slight Risk (Level 2 of 5) is generally along and south of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel at this time, where the potential for some significant severe weather exists. Finally, the Marginal Risk (Level 1 of 5) is over the rest of the KNWA/FOX 24 coverage area, generally north of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. This is where the most uncertainty still remains on the extent of the instability. As of early Thursday morning, the overall severe weather risk looks low in Northwest Arkansas.
Widely scattered showers and storms are trying to take off Thursday morning just to west of the area, with the main focus of this development north of Interstate 40. These storms will try to strengthen as they move into Northwest Arkansas, with the main risk being large hail. With poor low-level moisture return, the overall tornado risk with this activity is expected to be very low. These storms will likely keep the instability down in NWA as we go throughout the afternoon, further hindering the severe risk this afternoon.
The latest data has trended towards less convection breaking over all of the coverage area as we go throughout the early afternoon hours. This has caused a slight uptrend in the severe weather potential for the River Valley, as instability and better moisture return would be possible. The most favorable time-frame for significant tornado potential looks to be between 3 P.M. – 8 P.M., especially in Scott and Le Flore (OK) counties, where the greatest instability and shear will reside. There is still a ton of uncertainty on how far north the warm front will lift north as we go into the afternoon hours, which will play a significant role in severe weather potential. If any storm can ride along this boundary, the threat of a long-track, strong tornado would be enhanced in the River Valley. Widespread heavy rainfall will engulf the region as we move in the evening, with damaging winds possible on the leading edge of the line. The severe weather risk is expected to wind down significantly by 10 P.M., as instability will quickly decrease with colder air moving in.
In addition to the threat of severe weather, widespread flash flooding looks likely across the entire coverage area. Thunderstorms with extremely heavy rainfall could “train” over the same areas, which would greatly enhance the flooding potential in the areas that see this activity. Widespread rainfall amounts of 2-4″ are likely, with the possibility of locally higher amounts wherever the strongest storms take shape. If you live in low-lying areas, have a preparedness plan in place in case flooding impacts your area. Only a few inches of running water can sweep you or your vehicle away, so if you see running water, “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN”!
We will continue to update this Weather Blog as confidence increases over the next few days, so make sure to download the Weather Authority App for the latest information. Stay weather aware as we transverse this event, as the potential for a significant and dangerous severe weather outbreak exists, especially in the River Valley. Follow the team on social media below, and keep up with your local National Weather Service office for more information. Stay safe everyone!
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