Period begins with extensive cloud cover continuing to affect the region. Do expect fog to be seen again tonight as clouds start to decrease. As we head into Saturday, high pressure will build into the region bringing sunny skies and mild weather. High pressure shifts south of the state by Sunday with SW flow setting up across the state. This will aid in temps rising to well above average with 60s and 70s seen both Sunday and Monday. Sunshine will be common on Sunday but by Monday clouds will start to increase ahead of our next storm system. Ahead of this system, abundant moisture will be streaming in as warm air advection (WAA) sets up over the forecast area. This will lead to an increase in showers on Monday south, spreading northward as we round out the period. Any thunderstorm activity will hold off until just after the period.
Period begins with an upper low and associated trough approaching the area from the west. As the trough starts to move through the Plains on Tuesday, it will take on some of tilt leading to continuing rain chances. Looking at the setup, with abundant WAA, some modest shear and a bit of instability, there does look to be a window of strong to severe thunderstorm probability, especially over the southeastern half of the state. Of course at this time frame, guidance is still a bit all over the place with multiple solutions. The UKMET and Euro offer nearly identical setup in regards to track, timing, and setup compared to their less than stellar counterpart the GFS. The GFS has played catch up though and is trending towards the latter two. Given this and pulling forecast soundings from around the state, instability would be weak given ongoing rainfall. As we saw already this winter, it does not take much so this will have to be watched. Current thinking is that the wind threat will be the greatest threat out of this given dynamics displacement but we will have to watch closely as we draw closer. Forecast will remain conservative on this approach and leave severe wording out of forecast for now.
Upper system will move east of the state with a cold front quickly moving through overnight and Wednesday with colder air filtering back in. Same song, same verse it feels like this winter. Colder air trying to catch departing moisture. This setup is not conducive for winter weather in Arkansas given that we need a Gulf running low pressure and a front south of the state along with colder in place. Whenever the colder air, which usually gets bottled up in the Ozarks tries to catch the moisture we usually dry out. Given this look very similar to pretty much all of our other winter weather chances, we will opt to leave any mention of winter weather out of this package. IF anything is seen it will be in the higher elevations of the north and west. Guidance has backed off accordingly and as expected on snowfall for the Tuesday night into Wednesday night timeframe, and given the setup i fully expect this. There is still plenty of time to watch this as the system will just be getting sampled this weekend so a much better idea will be realized as we head through the weekend.
Beyond Wednesday we will dry out once again with a cold Thursday under partly cloudy skies. Colder air quickly departs with moderating temps by the weekend and dry weather.
On a side note. As I type this forecast, I am looking at the overall pattern of winter so far now that 2 months has gone by. We have been in a zonal flow for nearly the entire winter. This has kept true arctic air locked up to the north and kept us in a Pacific air pattern. Alaska has had one of the coldest Januarys on record. Typically when they are cold we are mild. Looking into February, winter is on life support. No true signs of established cold air are foreseen. AO/NAO remains strongly positive and PNA remains negative. Coupled with a warm Gulf, things just do not look in our favor for winter weather. We have been very active in terms of rainfall and storm systems so there have been plenty of opportunities just not when cold air does intrude. This has me concerned that the severe season could see an early and active start as well given lack of cooling around the region and the potential for those quick hitting shots of colder air as we move towards spring. Our winter outlook called for that early start back in November, unfortunately to date, us along with nearly everyone has missed the snowfall forecast but who could have foreseen the consistent zonal flow for the entire season. Our best time of year is right now for winter weather in Arkansas but between now and V-day I just do not see much if any signs. A flurry here or pellett there but true winter weather may avoid us for another season. White flag is on the pole ready to be raised on winter 2019-2020
~Chief Forecaster Derek