Storms hit area Wed morning, heat expected later

UNDATED, AR (KAIT & AP) – A cluster of showers and storms developed over Region 8 Wednesday morning, producing gusty winds, intense lightning,  and heavy rain.

According to Meteorologist Sarah Tipton, the storms will come to an end before lunch, leaving heat and humidity in its wake. She says Heat Index values today will near 105, and there is a Heat Advisory in place for much of Region 8. A few afternoon thunderstorms are possible, too.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for 61 counties in Arkansas and a broad swath of central and southwestern Missouri through Wednesday. Forecasters are urging people who work outdoors or are in the heat for an extended period to take extra precautions to protect themselves from heat-related injuries.

The weather service says temperatures are expected to climb into the 90s and low 100s before dropping back into the 60s and 70s overnight on Wednesday. The latest forecast calls for a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms on Thursday and for daytime temperatures to peak in the 80s and 90s.

The slightly lower highs are forecast to linger into Sunday.

During the storms Wednesday morning, Entergy reported outages in several areas including, but not limited to, Cherokee Villiage, Williford, Imboden, Cave City, Batesville and Southside, Campbell Station, Jonesboro, Cash, Dryden, Otwell, Valley View, Harrisburg, Trumann, and Monette.

Tipton said the storms remained below severe criteria which means the storms carry winds in excess of 60 mph and hail an inch in diameter or larger. The winds with this storm pushed 40 mph at times along and ahead of the leading edge of heavy rain.  Intense lightning and a lot of thunder does not solely qualify a storm as severe.

If you have any lightning photos from early Friday morning, please send them into The Loop.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.