Severe weather headed to Fort Smith, NWA areas

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 100 views 

The Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas are likely to experience severe weather and heavy rainfall between Wednesday (April 18) and Friday.

AccuWeather reports there is a risk of severe thunderstorms from Texas to Wisconsin Wednesday night with the greatest risk for tornadoes from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Joplin, Mo.

The risk of violent thunderstorms, some with tornadoes, will continue well into the nighttime hours and could extend past midnight.

"The greatest potential for a tornado extends from west-central Texas through central Oklahoma to southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri,” according to Severe Weather Expert Guy Pearson. "In the absence of tornadoes in this area, there is an elevated risk of large hail and damaging wind gusts with any of these storms.”

The first storms capable of producing tornadoes, large hail and damaging wind gusts are likely to fire roughly on a line from near Route 284 in Texas to the vicinity of Interstate 44 in Oklahoma to southeast of Interstate 35 in Kansas.

Cities potentially in the path of the dangerous storms Wednesday night include Wichita Falls, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., Chanute and Pittsburg, Kan., and Joplin, Mo.

This zone is likely to mark the dividing line between dry, chilly air to the west and warm, humid air to the east. Energy high in the atmosphere will give thunderstorms that form in this zone the means for explosive development.

Individual storms will slice swiftly northeastward, while the overall zone of thunderstorms will drift slowly eastward with time. The risk of thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes would reach into southwestern Missouri to part of north-central Texas.

While not an elevated threat as farther southwest, a couple of the strongest thunderstorms can produce a brief tornado in this area Wednesday night. Cities that can be hit by one or more severe thunderstorms Wednesday night include Topeka, Kan., Kansas City, Mo., Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago.

"The repeating nature of the thunderstorms and the downpours without thunder raises the risk of isolated flash, urban and small stream flooding from northeastern Kansas to southern Wisconsin Wednesday night," Pearson said.

Maps produced by AccuWeather indicate that most of Arkansas is also included in the area where severe weather and heavy rainfall is expected.