Storms likely across much of Arkansas this weekend, forecasters say; straight-line winds primary threat

Posted: October 20, 2017 at 9 a.m.
Updated: October 20, 2017 at 1:14 p.m.

Northwest Arkansas faces the greatest risk for storms to turn severe this weekend, according to the National Weather Service in North Little Rock. Straight-line winds are the primary threat.

Thunderstorms are likely across much of Arkansas over the weekend, with the greatest risk for severe weather across the state’s northwest, forecasters say.

Straight-line winds are the primary threat associated with a cold front that will move across Arkansas on Saturday night and into Sunday, said meteorologist Dennis Cavanaugh of the National Weather Service’s North Little Rock office.

Storms will primarily start Saturday afternoon in the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma, then spread into northern Texas and eastern Oklahoma and move eastward across Arkansas.

Wind gusts of 80 miles per hour are possible in western Oklahoma and 4 to 5 inches of rain could fall in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. Winds of 60 to 70 miles per hour are possible in Texas.

A slight risk for severe weather exists for Northwest Arkansas, meaning scattered, intense storms could produce isolated tornadoes and cause wind damage, Cavanaugh said.

Forecasters have included a north-to-south swath of the state, from Mountain Home to Texarkana, in a marginal risk for severe weather.

The highest rainfall totals are forecast to be in western and eastern Arkansas, where up to 2 inches could fall. Elsewhere in the state, between 1 to 1.5 inches is expected.

Golf-ball to tennis-sized hail is also a threat across the state, according to meteorologists.

Once the system leaves by Monday, cooler and drier conditions are expected throughout much of next week, the weather service said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.