Severe/Winter Weather Guides
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The National Weather Service authors Severe and Winter Weather guides annually. The guides serve to educate the public about hazardous weather and how to prepare for severe and winter storms.
 
Winter Guide (Terrain and Winter Weather/Pg 1)
 
During the Winter, the weather often becomes complex in Arkansas. There are many factors to consider such as how much cold air is moving into the state and how much moisture is available (for precipitation). But the equation would not be complete without considering the terrain as well.

 

As cold air dives through the Plains, it modifies (i.e. becomes less cold) and becomes more shallow. There is not much terrain in the Plains, so cold air usually has no trouble diving south from Canada. But as the air gets into the central and southern Plains, it modifies (i.e. becomes less cold) and becomes more shallow.

 

Once this shallow cold air encounters the mountains of north and west Arkansas (the Ozarks and Ouachitas), it has a tendency to slow down. More specifically, the cold air is often not deep enough to go over the mountains. The Terrain in Arkansas

 

As the cold air struggles to move into the Natural State, moisture often flows in from the Gulf of Mexico. To the south, in the warmer air, the forecast is simple...rain. Farther north where the cold air has arrived, snow often develops. It is the in-between that can become a forecast nightmare.

 


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