LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The National Weather Service in Little Rock has issued its first winter weather alerts of the season, and this year they look much different.

In the past, the National Weather Service would issue advisories county by county. This means that your whole county was either under an advisory or not. Now, counties can be split up into multiple regions. But why are these regions only in western Arkansas?

The answer is elevation. Even though Arkansas doesn’t have huge mountains like the Appalachians and Rockies, the elevation differences are enough to affect our weather. Most of Arkansas is below 1000 ft in elevation, but in the mountains, elevations can rise above 2500 ft!

This causes there to be big variations in annual temperatures and snow accumulations because temperatures cool as you move higher in elevation.

LEFT: Annual average temperature. RIGHT: Annual average snowfall.

Our snow chance Monday night is a perfect example of elevation-dependent snow. That’s why the winter weather advisories look so different.

These new regions are better because they more accurately show who will be impacted the most. This is important because in the past the National Weather Service would issue a winter weather alert over an entire county even though parts of the county would see only rain.

These new advisories match up perfectly with the latest snowfall predictions from the Arkansas Storm Team. We are forecasting 1-2″ along the higher elevations with much less for locations under 1000′.

Snowfall forecast for Monday, 11/14/2022.

These new zones aren’t only helpful during winter weather, they will also be used in the summer for excessive heat alerts.

So far, only the National Weather Service in Little Rock is using these new elevation-based zones. Locations covered by the National Weather Services in Tulsa, Memphis, and Shreveport still are county by county.

To learn more click here.

– Meteorologist Alex Libby

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The Arkansas Storm Team is a collaboration of two stations to bring you the largest weather team in the state when covering Arkansas weather.