WEATHER WATCH: Severe weather expected across Arkansas, other states

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The national Storm Prediction Center said today more than 18 million people in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma will be at an enhanced threat of storms that could include strong tornadoes and flooding rains.

A Hazardous Weather Outlook from the National Weather Service in Little Rock issued at 7:45 a.m. covers a large part of Arkansas.

According to the outlook, showers and isolated thunderstorms remain in the forecast today, followed by an outbreak of severe weather and a significant heavy rain event tonight and through the early morning hours Saturday.

A large storm system approaching from the southern plains will be responsible for the active pattern. Thunderstorms will begin developing in eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas by late this afternoon and will remain in place through the evening awaiting the arrival of the system.

Once the system nears, the weather service says a line of storms will kick to the east and move through Arkansas tonight. The incoming line of storms will likely bring widespread severe weather to the region. The main concern will be damaging winds, and there may be a few tornadoes as well. Where wind damage occurs, gusts may be hurricane-force or higher.

Storms overnight will produce torrential downpours. Two to more than three inches of rain is expected to dump in much of the state. Given that vegetation is dormant and not consuming much groundwater, downpours will runoff quickly, and this will increase the flash flood potential.

This event will also feature windy conditions. South to southeast winds at 10 to 20 mph today will increase to 20 to 30 mph tonight before shifting to the northwest. Gusts could reach 40 mph in portions of eastern Arkansas.

The weather service’s Little Rock office also says a big portion of the state is subject to flash flooding through this period. At 4:07 a.m., the agency put much of Arkansas under a flash flood watch from 12 p.m. today through late tonight.

A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.

And a flood warning continues through tomrorrow for the Black River at Black Rock, affecting Independence, Jackson, and Lawrence Counties, and for the Eleven Point River near Ravenden Springs, affecting Randolph County.

Always remember the weather service’s safety message regarding floods: Turn around. Don’t drown. Do not drive cars through flooded areas.

Everyone with property or other interest along streams and rivers should remain alert to changing weather forecasts.

Be sure to like and follow White River Now on Facebook for automatic updates during severe weather, and stay tuned to our family of radio stations including Arkansas 103.3 KWOZ and 93 KZLE.

To visit the National Weather Service online, click here.

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