Severe storms forecast for much of Arkansas on Saturday

Ozark Mountains could see ‘a few snowflakes,’ weather service says

This graphic from the National Weather Service published online on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 highlights parts of Arkansas that are forecast to see severe weather on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. (National Weather Service/X)
This graphic from the National Weather Service published online on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 highlights parts of Arkansas that are forecast to see severe weather on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. (National Weather Service/X)


Central and southern Arkansas could see severe weather on Saturday, while parts of northern Arkansas could also see a bit of snow over the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

“A strong cold front will surge through Arkansas from the Plains on Saturday. The front will trigger showers and thunderstorms,” a severe weather briefing from forecasters said Monday morning.

The briefing said the cold front will plow into “springlike” temperatures across Arkansas — an environment that forecasters called “unseasonably mild” and “unstable.”

Tornadoes, damaging winds and hail are possible in the southern two-thirds of Arkansas, the briefing said.

Dylan Cooper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock, said any severe weather is “likely going to be a daytime event.”

“That’s anytime from sunup to sundown, be prepared for severe weather,” Cooper said, adding that the severity and the timing of the storms were uncertain as of Monday afternoon.

He said that forecasters are watching for two variables: Wind energy and instability, which is warm, moist air. If the storms arrive earlier in the morning, when temperatures are cooler, then there is a chance the storms will be less severe, Cooper said.

“Traditionally we don’t maximize our energy in the earlier part of the day,” he said. “But if timing slows, even by a couple of hours, it could be a totally different scenario. It’s still too early to tell yet.

“What Arkansans should know is that they should be prepared for storms,” Cooper added. “We’ll give the details when we have them, but this is one of those times where preparedness goes a long way.”

Cooper also urged Arkansans to prepare for the chance of winter weather from Saturday night into Sunday morning.

“We will be monitoring the potential for minor snow accumulation,” Cooper said.

The briefing noted that cooler air will follow the cold front, and residual moisture from any storms “may yield a few snowflakes in the Ozark Mountains before precipitation ends Sunday afternoon.”

Cooper said that forecasts as of Monday afternoon were not suggesting significant amounts of snow, but he said that could change as the week progresses. The meteorologist said Arkansans should stay aware of the weather and check updated forecasts as they head into the weekend.