The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible with storms expected to develop across the northwest half of Arkansas on Wednesday and across the whole state Thursday.
John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the risk is real.
"This is certainly going to be the greatest severe weather threat that we have had in quite some time," he said in an email Wednesday.
The weather service said in a statement that a slight chance for severe weather will begin this afternoon with additional severe storms possible later in the night as thunderstorms move east from Oklahoma.
"The main threats with severe thunderstorms this afternoon through tonight will be large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes," the weather service said.
On Thursday afternoon into evening, a strong storm system will bring a moderate chance for severe weather for the whole state. Isolated severe storms will be possible in the morning with a higher risk developing as the day continues "and especially during the evening," Robinson wrote.
"Some of the severe weather will probably last until after midnight, especially in the southeastern half of the state," he said. "Large hail (perhaps golf ball size or larger), damaging winds, and a few tornadoes are expected. If everything develops as it looks now, it is not out of the question that at least a couple of tornadoes could reach EF2 or greater intensity."
Isolated flash floods may also occur, the weather service added, as the storm will drop up to 3 inches in some areas.