LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A tornado watch is in effect for the western half of Arkansas until midnight Friday. Be prepared and have a way to receive tornado warnings as they come in.
The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded southwestern Arkansas into Oklahoma and Texas to a moderate risk (level 4) The Little Rock Metro is now at an enhanced risk (level 3), with the remainder of Arkansas under a slight (level 2) risk.
As of 4 pm, showers and storms have developed in Oklahoma and Texas. Several severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued and a few tornado warnings.
Storms are expected to move into western Arkansas around 5 PM and continue to push eastward. Central Arkansas will likely see storms around the 9 PM hour, with eastern Arkansas seeing storms closer to midnight.
Storms will be moving ahead of a cold front throughout tonight into the overnight hours. Storms will be out of Arkansas before sunrise Saturday morning.
In Oklahoma and Northeast Texas, the storms will be capable of producing large hail and a few tornadoes. Western Arkansas is under a 15% risk for large hail around 1 inch or greater. That risk shrinks the farther east you go to 5%.
As the storms enter Arkansas late Friday afternoon, the hail threat will greatly diminish, and the tornado threat will lower as well. Far southwest Arkansas into southern Oklahoma and Northern Texas have the highest risk for a tornado. The shaded area has the greatest risk.
Southwestern Arkansas is under a 10% risk, with much of central and western Arkansas under a 5% risk. The farther east you go, the smaller the tornado risk.
The damaging wind threat is the highest. Southwestern Arkansas, northern Texas, and southern Oklahoma have the highest risk at 30%, however, as storms move to the east the wind threat will remain. Much of central and western Arkansas is under a 15% damaging wind risk.
The wind threat will start to die down slightly in eastern Arkansas, however damaging wind gusts will still be possible in this area.
Damaging wind gusts will be the primary threat with these storms. Some damage to power lines and trees is possible. A few tornadoes cannot be ruled out, although this risk overall, is low. Southwest Arkansas has the highest potential for tornadoes. Some isolated hail also cannot be ruled out, but will be more likely to our west and earlier in the evening.
Flooding is less of a concern, as we are still under severe and extreme drought conditions for much of the state. Heavy rainfall could bring brief, isolated flooding for a few spots farther west.
Rainfall totals will range between one and two inches. Generally, the greater chance for higher rainfall totals is across western Arkansas.
Storms will likely be out of Arkansas by 3 am. The overwhelming majority of Saturday will be rain-free, breezy, and cooler with high temperatures in the upper 60s.
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