Just a few days ago the modeling indicated extremely cold arctic air would grip the central portion of the country and send us into a deep freeze leading up to Christmas. At one point, it looked like highs could be in the 20s and 30s with the chance for frozen precipitation on the table.
Let's be clear before I get into this, THIS IS STILL CONSIDERED LONG RANGE AND OF COURSE WILL HAVE TO BE FINE TUNED AS WE GET CLOSER. With that said, the worry for frozen and cold weather has shifted to a heavy rain and thunderstorm threat. First of all, the cold air is not as strong and stays bottled up further north until the surface low passes east of us. Even then, the cold air is nothing unusual. 2nd, this allows the storm track to shift further north opening us up to the warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. Now we have to watch for strong thunderstorms. At this point though, I'm leaning towards a threat for the main threat to be heavy rainfall. If any rough thunderstorms occur, I suspect the best chance will be across southern Arkansas into the southeast United States.
The only chance for winter precipitation will be Sunday night into Monday morning on the back side of the system. There's a small chance for a transition to some wintry weather across portions of northern Arkansas. Looking at the modeling this Monday morning, this shouldn't be a huge problem, but it's worth watching for any changes!
I know this is an important forecast. Many of you have last minute preparations for Christmas and some of you are even hitting the road so I advise you to keep checking back as this significant storm system affects us later this week.
The following maps are from weatherbell.com.
|By noon Sunday, the surface low is located across central Arkansas with heavy rain and thunderstorms. Behind the low, counterclockwise winds grab that cold air and sends it south. That's snow out there in Oklahoma into Kansas and Missouri.|
|By 6 PM next Sunday, the GFS indicates the cold air is punching into central Arkansas as the surface low moves northeast. Temperatures would tumble and the attention would shift to wintry weather with moisture on the back side of the system.|
|By midnight Monday morning, the rain is changing to light snow across northern Arkansas before ending. This doesn't look like a major storm for us, but it could be further north of the state.|
|Maps from the Weather Prediction Center indicates rainfall amounts in excess of 3 inches across much of the state next weekend. I think there could be a bit more than this.|