The National Weather Service in Little Rock has released the following Winter Weather Outlook as of Thursday morning, January 17th:
Surface low pressure will drag a strong Arctic front through Arkansas on Saturday morning and move it east of the state Saturday afternoon. Gusty winds, much colder air, and winter weather potential will follow the front.
Winds will be gusty surrounding the front, with the highest winds behind the boundary. Sustained winds of 15-25 MPH are expected, with 20-30 MPH over the higher terrain of northwest Arkansas and the Delta region of eastern Arkansas. Gusts as high as 40 MPH could occur, especially over the northwest and the Delta. The stronger winds will make for rough conditions on areas bodies of water, and could cause some difficulty for high profile vehicles. Winds will subside early Sunday morning.
.Colder Air/Wind Chills…
Temperatures are expected to reach their highs in most areas during the morning, and will fall sharply behind the front. By mid-day, much of northwest into north central Arkansas and western Arkansas could see temperatures below freezing. By the late evening, most areas should be close to or below freezing, with much of the north and west down into the 20s.
By Sunday morning, the cold air and gusty winds will make for wind chills in the teens in most areas, with single digit wind chills possible in the north. Low temperatures will be the coldest on Sunday morning, with lows ranging from around 15 degrees in the northwest to around 30 degrees in the southeast.
.Winter Weather Potential…
Rain will be fairly widespread on Saturday morning, and should transition over to snow during the morning in the northwest, as the cold air moves in behind the front. Precipitation will transition over to snow over north central and western Arkansas during the early afternoon hours. Light snow accumulations are possible over northern and portions of western Arkansas. In areas north of a Fort Smith-Clinton-Jonesboro line, snowfall amounts of one to two inches are forecast, with localized amounts of three inches possible. In areas south of this area and north of roughly Mena-Searcy-West Memphis, a light dusting is possible, with localized amounts around an inch.
Over the remainder of the state, a few flakes may mix in with the rain, but no accumulations are expected. The snow should come to an end fairly quickly late Saturday afternoon and into Saturday evening.
The rapid onset of sub-freezing temperatures may generate slick spots on elevated road surfaces. Minor travel impacts are possible where accumulating snow falls. Cold temperatures could cause pipes to freeze.
At this time, forecast confidence is not especially high. The model solutions have backed off on expected snowfall amounts, and this morning, there remains considerable variability in model solutions. Any deviation in the forecast track of this low could change expected snowfall amounts.
Your Arkansas NWS offices will continue to monitor the upcoming system and fine tune the forecast as necessary. Some adjustments are likely over the next 24-36 hours.
Brian D. Smith
NWS Little Rock