The risk for severe weather has expanded to include most of the state, the National Weather Service said Monday afternoon.
“Latest analysis of atmospheric conditions has prompted the Storm Prediction Center to extend the slight risk southward across a large portion of Arkansas,” a tweet from the weather service said just before 12:45 p.m. on Monday.
A slight risk means that storms will be similar to those seen in the area a few times a year and could produce hail, damaging wind or tornadoes, the tweet said.
All but parts of southern Arkansas are included in the slight risk area, including Little Rock, Conway and Pine Bluff.
“Damaging wind gusts and large hail will be the primary concerns this afternoon and evening,” the tweet said.
12:08 p.m. | Severe storms possible in northeast, Central Arkansas on Monday, meteorologists say
Parts of northern and Central Arkansas could see storms with strong winds and hail on Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
Heat advisories have also been issued statewide.
The main concerns with the storms on Monday are damaging wind gusts as strong as 60 mph and hail that could be an inch in diameter or larger, said Travis Shelton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.
Shelton said Monday morning the storms are looking to start around 5 to 6 p.m. and could remain in the area until just before midnight.
Parts of northeast Arkansas, including Jonesboro, are at a slight risk for severe weather, a tweet from the National Weather Service said Monday just before 8:30 a.m.
A slight risk means that severe thunderstorms are expected to be few or isolated, according to the weather service.
Other northern and central parts of the state, including Fayetteville, Batesville, Fort Smith, Russellville and Conway are at a marginal risk for severe weather, the tweet said.
The National Weather Service defines a marginal risk as isolated storms that may be limited in duration, coverage or intensity.
“There is a potential for heavy rainfall,” Shelton said, “It won’t be anywhere near like what southern Arkansas saw last week with flooding, but there is a high level of atmospheric moisture so there could be a good bit of rain coming with these storms.”
Little Rock might get some rain in the afternoon, but Shelton said the storms are not looking like they will reach the metro area.
HEAT THIS WEEK
Temperatures and heat indexes are high enough that the weather service has already issued heat advisories statewide for Tuesday, Shelton said.
The heat index is how the temperature feels to the human body, taking into account the humidity in the air, Shelton said.
“Mostly anything south of Little Rock has a [heat] advisory, and parts of Central Arkansas are approaching the temperatures to need a heat advisory and might need one before too long,” the meteorologist said Monday.
Arkansans should try to stay cool and hydrate when possible as well as keep an eye out for signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, Shelton advised. Those working outside should try to stay in shaded areas and take breaks frequently, he said.