Winter Storm Watch for Northwest Arkansas

A Winter Storm Watch has already been issued for Northwest Arkansas, Northeast Oklahoma and further up into Missouri and Kansas.   For now, I think this a good placement where the watch should be for an event this far out, as it appears that  the higher risk of significant ice and/or snow accumulations will be from Northwest Arkansas to the north and west. 

Still monitoring for some ice and snow potential for Fort Smith/River Valley.  However, it appears that a lot of this will be just a cold rain for much Thursday morning in Fort Smith with temperatures falling from the 40s to the 30s during the day.   While some ice and snow is still possible that far south before it ends, for now, it appears it would be under Winter Storm criteria. 

For Northwest Arkansas, it may initially start as rain with temperatures just above freezing early Tuesday morning.  However, temperatures are expected to drop from the 30s to the 20s during the day on Tuesday.  It will likely switch to freezing rain later Tuesday morning.  As the cold air gets deeper during the day, a changeover to snow is expected.  Exactly when we drop below 32 degrees and when the changeover occurs from freezing rain to snow will determine on how much ice we get and how much snow we get.   One factor that may limit the amount of snow accumulations on top of the ice will be the potential for the drier air aloft (less favorable for big snowflakes)shortly after it becomes cold enough in the entire atmosphere for snow.   My gut feeling is telling me that snow accumulations will probably not be as high as models are advertising. 

Damon Shaw, 40/29 Meteorologist

Follow us on twitter at “4029weather”


47 Responses

  1. So for now NWA stands the best chance,but if it shifts that 30-50 miles south like you were talking about,higher totals would be possible?

    • Dax,

      That is correct, we have to watch it carefully.

      Ross Ellet

  2. So, are we actually looking at seeing the 4-10″ that NWS has put in the winter storm watch? I just need to know if I’ll need riot gear and tear gas to get through the grocery store.

    • Jake,

      It depends on the timing of the cold air. Assuming the cold air is there, those totals wouldn’t surprise me. Regardless, if you head the grocery store do yourself a favor and get there before the chaos on Monday.

      Ross Ellet

  3. When was the last time we had a Winter Storm Watch issued when it was 74 degrees?

    • Marla,

      Last March before the March 21st snowstorm.

      Ross Ellet

  4. Looks like it’s gonna miss Fort Smith once again! So not fair, and it really is irritating that lots of schools are going to close, while Fort Smith will have to go. . I may not send my daughter if it’s snowing or whatever. .

    Ross, in your opinion, do you think Fort Smith will see any accumulation? If so, how much?

    • Jeremy,

      At this point, I think there will be some light accumulations perhaps an inch or two, but honestly things could change a lot in the next 24 hours.

      Ross Ellet

  5. Thanks guys!
    And if it were to shift further south,then the RV could have an ice storm?

    • Dax,

      In that case icing would be a bigger concern anyways.

      Ross Ellet

  6. Being honest,alot could change in the next thirty six hours for us here in the RV couldnt they?

  7. NAM looks to still be on steroids. lol

    • Ikr?

    • Michael,

      The 18z and now the 00z is out of control. I think it is overdoing it, but half of that QPF would be crazy.

      Ross Ellet

  8. NAM came in looking great for the whole area!

  9. Is there a website where I can access the different forecasting models, the NAM, etc.?

  10. The NAM once again is glowing on the whole area. Eyeballing it showing 8+ for NE OK NWA, and 2-5ish for the RV. Have to wait for the extracted data to see what types of winter precip its wanting to place down. all

  11. I’ve been busy this afternoon, just checked out the 18z and 00z NAM; can’t really find the words. I do think it is somewhat teasing us. Barring the ridiculous qpf, I did not that it now has the 540 at the NW tip of AR at 12z on Tue. I will say that looking at HPC guidance, they suggest the NAM may be the outlier for this storm at this point. When you do publish your first predictions graphs, just curious which one you are favoring. Thanks!

    • Ryan,

      Not until late Sunday or Monday. We want to wait until the wave fully moves over California first.

      Ross Ellet

      • Ross, not when will you, which will you lean towards.

    • Ryan, I’ll have some timeline graphics up early Sunday evening to give a general idea for temperatures and precip type. Snowfall and ice accumulation maps won’t be up until 10pm Sunday evening at the earliest…for sure by Monday morning. As Ross said, want to look at 0z Sunday evening NAM before we do that.

      -Damon Shaw

  12. Would you be suprised to see a Winter Storm Watch issued for the RV? An would you expect large changes in the forecast for the RV an NWA? And considering the NAMs are so high,does that give you you more confidence snow will fall? Sorry for the long post ,Thanks!!

    • Garrett,

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Winter Storm Watch issued in the river valley for areas east of the Oklahoma/Arkansas border. As for areas from Clarksville to Fort Smith, it just depends on how quickly the cold air comes in.

      With both the NAM and GFS, I have a lot of confidence that either snow or ice in large amounts may fall in NWA…but the jury is still out on which it will be.

      Ross Ellet

  13. Now the ooZ and 18z NAM are both showing 4 to 10″ for the RV and 10 to 14″ plus NWA,It’d be nice if their right!

  14. no ice, no ice, no ice, no ice, no ice…I live in NWA, no ice, no ice, no ice, no ice

  15. looks as if the cold air will arrive even faster,yesterday the NWS said it’d start off as rain then transition,now,looks like it may not ever be just all rain in NWA,an more snow is also expected.Same in the RV,was showing a rain event,now saying it may not ever be just plain rain.Am I right,dosent it look like it will arrive faster?

  16. Dax,

    Compared to late Friday night it does, for the time being the latest data hasn’t shifted the storm any more to the south.

    Ross Ellet

  17. Thanks,Ross!
    So if the cold air is arriving earlier does that mean higher totals in the RV?

    • Carl,

      Yes it does.

      Ross Elet

  18. Ross,

    I guess by reading all of the above, we are still in wait and see pattern. I noticed earlier in the blog someone mentioned Madison county having more rain and freezing rain than snow. Any new thoughts on that? We are just trying to get ready with generators if the event looks to be as large and as bad as 3 years ago.

    • Charissa,

      We are in a wait and see pattern, but I do believe there will be a significant band of icing in NWA with this storm that may only be 30 to 40 miles wide. While, I can’t imagine things being as bad as the 09′ ice storm, I do think you should be prepared.

      Ross Ellet

  19. Hey guys – either way, my wife has a trip planned in South Texas – leaving weds night – Thursday morning. Whats your best guess that this storm is going to effect those plans? Thanks for all you do!

    • Jack,

      Thankfully your wife is leaving Weds night instead of Tues night. I am sure the roads will still be slick at the least, but to what extent it is tough to know right now.

      Ross Ellet

  20. So whats the thinking as of right now for snow totals for Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley?

  21. Thanks!
    Any idea how much higher?

    • Carl,

      Not at this point, we just need to watch it.

      Ross Ellet

  22. Brandon,

    I will post a new update within the next hour on that.

    Ross Ellet

  23. Does the Low still have the chance to shift south?

    • Garrett,


      Ross Ellet

  24. What are you expecting for the Tulsa area now?

    • Amber,

      Perhaps a thin layer of freezing rain or sleet before changing over to all snow. Snow totals could easily hit 10″+

      Ross Ellet

  25. Ross,

    Seems the whole storm system is trending north now. I want to know that if we have ice, is it true the air temp must be at or below 28 degress for heavy accumulation on the roads and power lines. Looking at bufkit data it seems that the temps will be above that during the freezing rain..thanks!

    • Jeremy,

      The temperature has a lot to do with it. Elevated objects such as trees, power lines, cars, etc will accumulate much quicker even at 30-32 degrees but the roads would likely fair much better. One thing that will help is that the temperatures have been so mild and the ground temperature is much warmer as well. It is just another variable to a very tricky forecast.

      Ross Ellet

    • Likely a non event in the RV,Jeremy,mostly rain,and it needs to be 30 or below to see bad roads,an 32 or below for elevated surfaces.Also,to see freezing rain,you need the temp at least 32,if above its rain.

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