We’re wrapping up the year on a mild and quiet note, but a wide range of weather conditions will follow on New Year’s Day.
For tonight, we’ll find mostly clear and quiet weather. Clouds will really start to stream in by morning making for a mostly cloudy New Year’s Eve. Despite the cloud cover, it will be mild with temperatures climbing into the 60s. Low 70s are within reach over Northern Arkansas. It doesn’t look like any record highs will fall, but this is still very warm for late December with highs running around 20° above normal. This will also cement December 2021 in the record books for being one of the warmest Decembers ever recorded.
Wet weather will spread in New Year’s Eve night. We’ll see showers first across Northern Arkansas as a warm front serves as a focus for shower and thunderstorm development to the south. Showers will spread north to about Hwy. 60 by midnight with temperatures in the 50s as we ring in the new year.
A cold front will edge in from the northwest early Saturday, but will likely stall near I-44 by sunrise as it awaits an area of low pressure to ripple by. Rain is likely across most of the area Saturday morning with embedded thunderstorms to the south in Northern Arkansas. This will be an area where a low risk of severe weather may exist. The risk appears to be along and south of a Harrison, AR, to Alton, MO, line. Thunderstorms racing east up the boundary across Northern Arkansas could bring a risk of damaging wind gusts and possibly some hail. The risk is on the iffy side and appears to be more likely just south of the area.
Heavy rainfall and flooding will also be a concern across the same area with 1 to 3″ of rain expected from Ft. Smith, AR, to Jonesboro, AR.
Further northwest, rain will be widespread, likely tapering off to mainly drizzle by early afternoon. An area of low pressure rippling along the front will open the door to arctic air as it slides across Southern Missouri. Temperatures at sunrise will be above freezing across most of the area but will drop sharply as the low slides by. The plunge will begin near Springfield by mid to late morning, likely dropping nearly 20° in a couple of hours. Areas near Springfield will be near freezing by early Saturday afternoon, falling to near 20° by sunset. All of the area will be below freezing by Saturday evening.
Wintry weather will develop from northwest to southeast during the day Saturday with the highest accumulations closer to Kansas City. Areas from Osceola to Versailles (currently under a Winter Storm Watch) will experience the highest totals in our area with less than a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation with up to around an inch of snow on top.
Further southeast, most of the heavier precipitation will move out before the changeover happens. Light drizzle Saturday afternoon will change to mainly light freezing drizzle, but there could be a few light showers or sleet or snow later in the afternoon. It should be all very light snow or flurries later Saturday evening with some very light snow or flurries possible through sunrise Sunday morning. A very light glaze of ice is possible across areas generally along and north of the interstate. A light coating of snow of a half an inch or less is possible through Saturday night. A dusting of snow is possible south into Northern Arkansas.
Road conditions will remain in good shape heading into Saturday afternoon, but untreated roads could become slick by late afternoon, especially once the sun goes down.
The other story will be the cold Saturday night. This will be the coldest night of the winter season so far. Temperatures will dip into the upper single digits northwest to lower 20s across North Central Arkansas. The cold will come with wind chills that will dip to near zero.
Flurries will wrap up early Sunday with clouds giving way to sunny skies. The afternoon will remain sunny and very cold with afternoon highs only in the 20s.
Temperatures will dip back into the teens Sunday night before the arctic air recedes off to the east Monday. Sunny skies and southwest winds will push afternoon temperatures Monday into the mid to upper 40s.
By Tuesday, the cold will be in the rearview mirror. The day will likely be the nicest day of the week with sunshine and highs in the low 50s. Chillier air works in on Wednesday with some cloud cover. Another arctic blast follows on Thursday and it could come with a light wintry mix.