LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Tropical Storm Isaac arrived in Arkansas on Thursday with hail and tree-toppling winds, a precursor to a forecast of flooding as the storm sloshes across the state.
Meteorologist John Robinson of the National Weather Service in Little Rock said he expected the rainfall to intensify after dark Thursday, because tropical systems tend to contract at night and produce greater rainfall.
Flooding didn't pose much of a problem Thursday. As of 7 p.m., Pine Bluff had 2.61 inches of rain, Monticello 2.57 inches and El Dorado 1.58 inches. Little Rock had just under an inch.
But the rain was forecast to continue well into Friday.
Tornadoes were possible as the storms moved through, though no warnings had been issued as of 9:30 p.m. Forecasters said flooding would be the biggest threat to safety.
Gov. Mike Beebe said emergency crews were ready to move, but none had been summoned as of Thursday evening.
"We've got everybody on standby. State police is on standby. Obviously the National Guard is. All of our emergency responders or people who would be expected to help in a weather event like this are on standby and prepared," Beebe said.
About 2 to 5 inches of rain were forecast for most of Arkansas, though some areas could get significantly more, Robinson said. Winds were between 15 and 25 mph, with occasional gusts of close to 50 mph.
Even though Isaac was downgraded to a tropical depression just before 4 p.m. Thursday, forecasters said residents needed to remain aware that tornadoes can develop quickly in supercells — too rapidly for warnings to be issued.
The greatest tornado threat was in the southeast corner of the state, which had already seen wind gusts of 40 mph or more blow down trees in Chicot County and knock out power in the small farming town of Eudora.
About 13,000 customers lost power as scattered outages popped up across the southern half of the state. Pea-size hail fell at Holley Mountain Airpark near Clinton in central Arkansas.
The storm's center was forecast to move into western Arkansas later Thursday, bringing a greater danger of flash floods as rainfall courses down the Ouachita and Ozark mountains. A flash flood watch is in effect through Friday.