5:40 p.m. Update – The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch that includes all of Southeast Arkansas from 5:40 p.m. until 1 a.m. The Storm Prediction a Center issued the following statement:
“Scattered supercells expected to spread easily across watch area through late tonight with some tendency to merge into broken lines/small clusters of storms. These may produce a few thunderstorms in addition to large hail and damaging winds. Scattered damaging wind likely with isolated significant gust to 80 miles per hour possible. Scattered large hail likely with isolated very large hail events 2 1/2inches in diameter possible.
2:30 p.m. UPDATE: A thunderstorm watch has been issued for 16 counties in southern Arkansas, including Bradley and Cleveland counties. Expect additional thunderstorm watches to be issued for Southeast Arkansas. Check back for updates.
The Severe Storm Prediction Center has forecast an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms centered over Arkansas Sunday afternoon into Sunday night due to the confluence of a surface low pressure area, a low pressure aloft, a cold front progressing from the plains, and a warm front advancing northeastward from the Gulf Coast.
The greatest risk for Sunday afternoon-evening is isolated supercell development over southeast Arkansas. A supercell is a rotating thunderstorm with a deep and persistent updraft or mesocyclone.
This type of thunderstorm is often the parent storm of tornadoes, although the SPC has listed hail and damaging winds as the greatest threats Sunday afternoon and early evening. An isolated tornado, however, cannot be ruled out.
Expect dangerous lightning to accompany these storms.
The weather event should eventually transition into a well-developed squall line with the potential for damaging winds late Sunday night. This is a dynamic and complex weather event so potential weather threats – both in type and severity – can change quickly.