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Hail, tornadoes heading to Fort Smith, Northwest Arkansas area

AccuWeather report by Alex Sosnowksi, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

Much of Arkansas could face large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes on Wednesday and rain the rest of the week, with the Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas almost at the center of the large weather pattern.

AccuWeather.com reports severe thunderstorms on Wednesday will threaten 18 million people from northern Texas to eastern Kansas, much of Missouri and central and southern Illinois. The threat on Wednesday includes the potential for a couple of strong tornadoes.

The severe weather on Wednesday is part of a multiple-day severe weather event that will continue through the end of the week and will reach parts of the Midwest, East and South.

Cities in the area of concern for dangerous and disruptive weather conditions Wednesday and Wednesday night include Dallas; Wichita, Kan.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Little Rock and Fort Smith, Ark.; Kansas City, Springfield, Joplin and St. Louis, Mo.; Shreveport, La.; Memphis, Tenn.; Paducah, Ky.; Evansville, Ind.; and Mt. Vernon, Ill.

Travel delays and difficult driving conditions are possible along I-35, I-40, I-44 and I-70 in the region.

The storms spanning Wednesday and Wednesday night will bring large hail, high winds and flash flooding to a number of communities. However, a few of the storms can bring a tornado.

According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive Mike Smith, "There is the potential for a couple of large tornadoes along the Kansas/Oklahoma border late Wednesday afternoon and evening."

While the coverage of severe weather is forecast to expand greatly on Thursday, people should stay on alert prior to and following the main event. Smith passed along a saying among storm chasers, "The day before the day is often the day that catches people by surprise."

The storms late Wednesday will fire near the boundary of dry air to the west, warm, moist air to the southeast and cool air to the northeast.

According to Severe Weather Meteorologist Justin Pullin, "Storms in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma later Wednesday will not have much competition and will be in a favorable zone with strong winds at mid-levels of the atmosphere.”

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Even late in the day Tuesday, a few storms over parts of north-central Texas and central Oklahoma can become severe with an isolated tornado.

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