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Monthly Storm Reports and Storm Data
Storm Reports
Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
Arkansas Yearly Climate Summary (2017)
 
Links of Interest
Storms of 2017 in Arkansas (in PDF)
Note: This is a file with lists of significant events (tornadoes, damaging winds, hail, etc) during the year in Arkansas.

 

Some Quick Stats for Arkansas in 2017
 
2017 Statistics
Month Tornadoes Tornado Deaths Wind (Tstm and Non-Tstm) Deaths Flood/Flash Flood Deaths Lightning Deaths
Jan 3 (EF0:2, EF1: 1) 0 0 0 0
Feb 2 (EF1: 1, EF2: 1) 0 0 0 0
Mar 15 (EF0: 4, EF1: 8, EF2: 3) 0 0 0 0
Apr 10 (EF0: 3, EF1: 7) 0 1 8 0
May 2 (EF0: 1, EF1: 1) 0 0 0 0
Jun 0 0 2 0 0
Total 32 0 3 8 0
Note: The latest tornado (rated EF1) affected areas from Short, OK to Natural Dam (Crawford County) late on May 27th. The strongest tornado (rated EF2) tracked almost 37 miles from Mossville (Newton County) to Saint Joe (Searcy County) on March 6th.

 

Precipitation in 2017 (Through May)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 28.55 20.21 +8.34 141%
Harrison (NC AR) 26.08 18.00 +8.08 145%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 27.19 21.28 +5.91 128%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 22.08 19.19 +2.89 115%
Little Rock (C AR) 25.82 21.90 +3.92 118%
West Memphis (EC AR) 19.80 24.19 -4.39 82%
Texarkana (SW AR) 20.56 20.62 -0.06 100%
El Dorado (SC AR) 26.38 22.98 +3.40 115%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 25.12 23.20 +1.92 108%
Note: Through May, the statewide average precipitation was 25.39 inches, or 2.67 inches above average.  This was the 34th wettest first five months of the year on record.

 

Average Temperatures in 2017 (Through May)
Site Avg Temp +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 53.2° +4.1°
Harrison (NC AR) 54.3° +4.4°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 56.1° +4.5°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 58.4° +4.8°
Little Rock (C AR) 58.0° +3.6°
West Memphis (EC AR) 57.7° +4.8°
Texarkana (SW AR) 60.7° +4.0°
El Dorado (SC AR) 60.7° +4.3°
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 59.5° +4.1°
Note: Through May, the statewide average temperature was 57.0 degrees, or 4.4 degrees above average.  This was the 2nd warmest first five months of the year on record.

 

2017 Short Summary

 

Significant Event #1: February 28-March 1 (Wind/Tornadoes)
The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of thunderstorms blasting quickly across northern Arkansas during the early morning hours of 03/01/2017. The storms were responsible for widespread wind damage.
Radar at 137 am CST (03/01)  |  Radar at 227 am CST (03/01)
Radar at 328 am CST (03/01)  |  Two Supercells at 210 am CST (03/01)
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of thunderstorms blasting quickly across northern Arkansas during the early morning hours of 03/01/2017. The storms were responsible for widespread wind damage. Two supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) were dominant within the line. The northernmost supercell was a prolific downburst producer, with multiple tornadoes associated with the southernmost supercell.
 

While there have been several significant events in 2017 (through April), two stand out. The first of these unfolded on February 28th. Isolated supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) erupted in central Arkansas toward evening. Two tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) were spawned near Higginson and Kensett (both in White County). According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, at least half a dozen people were injured and taken to area hospitals.

There was a sizable lull in the late evening (several hours), but models were insistent on a line of storms sweeping into the region from Oklahoma. During the wee hours of March 1st, the line materialized and plowed across the northern half of the state. Storms reached Fort Smith (Sebastian County) by 100 am CST, and were in Blytheville (Mississippi County) by 430 am CST. That's roughly 250 miles in less than four hours! Along the way, trees and power lines were downed and structures were damaged or destroyed. Straight-line wind gusts reached 60 to more than 90 mph.

 

Notable Gusts at Automated Observation Sites (03/01/2017)
Site Gust Time
Walnut Ridge (Lawrence Co) 76 mph 335 am CST
Jonesboro (Craighead Co) 68 mph 350 am CST
Fort Smith (Sebastian Co) 66 mph 1252 am CST
Newport (Jackson Co) 66 mph 332 am CST
Blytheville (Mississippi Co) 63 mph 429 am CST
Flippin (Marion Co) 59 mph 235 am CST
Corning (Clay Co) 58 mph 355 am CST

 

A trailer was flipped by powerful straight-line winds at a prison east of Newport (Jackson County) during the predawn hours of 03/01/2017.
In the picture: A trailer was flipped by powerful straight-line winds at a prison east of Newport (Jackson County) during the predawn hours of 03/01/2017.
 

Intense wind damage was found in several spots, including Hagarville (Johnson County), Fairfield Bay (Van Buren County), Drasco (Cleburne County), and a few miles east of Newport (Jackson County). At the latter location, two injuries resulted when a trailer flipped. There was an unconfirmed report of a 110 mph gust measured by a nearby resident.

 

Not Your Typical Severe Storms

As a line of storms cut a swath through northern Arkansas, wording in Severe Thunderstorm Warnings was ramped up to call attention to how dangerous conditions would become:

"Intense thunderstorm lines can produce brief tornadoes and widespread significant wind damage. Although a tornado is not immediately likely, it is best to move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. These storms may cause serious injury and significant property damage."

 

At least eight tornadoes (rated EF0 to EF2) were spawned across five counties in northern and central Arkansas from the evening of February 28th through the early morning hours of March 1st, 2017.
In the picture: At least eight tornadoes (rated EF0 to EF2) were spawned across five counties in northern and central Arkansas from the evening of February 28th through the early morning hours of March 1st, 2017.
 

Intense lines of storms like this one sometimes produce brief and weak tornadoes. During this event, at least six weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1) were counted. They were just south of Lamar (Johnson County), north of Center Ridge (Conway County), at Crossroads (Cleburne County), near Diaz (Jackson County), and close to Possum Grape (Jackson County).

 

 

Significant Event #2: April 28-30 (Flooding/Tornadoes)
Flooding rain hinged on the placement of a warm front pushing through Arkansas from the south and the speed of a storm system ("L") approaching from the west on 04/29/2017.
In the picture: Flooding rain hinged on the placement of a warm front pushing through Arkansas from the south and the speed of a storm system ("L") approaching from the west on 04/29/2017.
 

The next big event happened in late April. Conditions were looking very favorable for more than a half foot of rain in parts of Arkansas. The features to watch were a warm front lifting through the area from the south, and a storm system wobbling this way from the southern Plains.

 

The satellite showed showers and thunderstorms slowly building into Arkansas from the north and west as a storm system ("L") edged toward the state during the evening of 04/29/2017.
Satellite at 700 pm CDT (04/29)  |  Satellite at 930 pm CDT (04/29)
Satellite at 1200 am CDT (04/30)
In the pictures: The satellite showed showers and thunderstorms slowly building into Arkansas from the north and west as a storm system ("L") edged toward the state during the evening of 04/29/2017.
 

As the storm system to the west limped toward us, a wall of water slowly spread to the east. Not only was there a lot of rain, there was some severe weather.

 

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a cluster of thunderstorms starting to bow out as they neared Searcy (White County) at 1235 am CDT on 04/30/2017. Along the bow, a small notch was noted, with strong rotation near the notch. A weak tornado (rated EF1) was spawned, with some structural and tree damage three miles south of West Point (White County).
Reflectivity at 1235 am CDT (04/30)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 1235 am CDT (04/30)
Structural Damage South of West Point (White County)
Tree Damage South of West Point (White County)
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a cluster of thunderstorms starting to bow out as they neared Searcy (White County) at 1235 am CDT on 04/30/2017. Along the bow, a small notch was noted, with strong rotation near the notch. A weak tornado (rated EF1) was spawned, with some structural and tree damage three miles south of West Point (White County).
 

Just before 600 pm CDT, damaging straight-line winds knocked a tree onto a mobile home at DeWitt (Arkansas). A woman inside the mobile home was killed.

At least seven weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1) were confirmed. One of these tornadoes tore through locations near Bellefonte (Boone County) between 300 pm and 330 pm CDT on the 29th. The front of a house was pushed in, with serious damage resulting. Shortly before 500 pm CDT, another tornado damaged a home and destroyed a mobile home north of Natural Dam (Crawford County). Between 1230 am and 100 am CDT on the 30th, sheds and metal buildings were ripped up by a tornado a couple of miles north of Griffithville (White County). Huge trees were also uprooted or snapped. Other tornadoes were identified south of Augusta (Woodruff County), southwest of Humnoke (Lonoke County), near Dell (Mississippi County), and north of Pleasant Grove (Drew County). All of these happened during the wee hours of the 30th.

Power outages became a problem due to high winds and a tremendous amount of lightning. More than 70,000 customers lost power  

 

Link of Interest
Damage Survey Information

 

Fifty four hour rainfall through 100 pm CDT on 04/30/2017. A few of the totals are estimated.
Rainfall (Arkansas)  |  Rainfall (Zoomed Out)
In the pictures: Fifty four hour rainfall through 100 pm CDT on 04/30/2017. A few of the totals are estimated.
 

As far as reported rainfall, parts of the northwest and central into northeast sections of Arkansas were hammered with over six inches of rain. It was two months of rain in only a day.Twenty four hour amounts through 700 am CDT on the 30th included a whopping 9.73 inches near Rogers (Benton County), 8.50 inches at Savoy (Washington County), 7.85 inches at Guy (Faulkner County), and 7.82 inches at Georgetown (White County). Numerous roads were under water, with water into homes, and people rescued from houses and vehicles due to rising water.

At the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County), rain came down in buckets, and at a record pace. A staggering 1.55 inches of water fell 15 minutes, with 2.17 inches in 30 minutes.

 

 

At least seven people were killed as flooding became extreme. Near Hindsville (Madison County), a car carrying two small children (4-year-old boy and 18-month-old girl) was pushed off the road. Their bodies were eventually recovered. At Eureka Springs (Carroll County), a young woman was inner tubing in a drainage ditch and disappeared under a bridge. According to reports, her body was found a half mile downstream. A 10-year-old girl fell into a creek at Springdale (Washington County), and was swept downstream. Also in Washington County, the body an elderly man was found in a car that had been submerged in water. In West Little Rock (Pulaski County), a woman's body was discovered in Rock Creek. She was supposedly camping in a tent, and went missing when the water came up. Finally, northwest of Paron (Saline County), a group of people in kayaks were challenged by currents along Alum Fork south of Lake Winona. One man was killed.

 

A record crest of 29.0 feet occurred along the Black River at Pocahontas (Randolph County) on  05/02/2017.
In the picture: A record crest of 29.0 feet occurred along the Black River at Pocahontas (Randolph County) on  05/02/2017. 
 

Given way more liquid than the ground could hold, area tributaries swelled heading into early May. Moderate to major flooding occurred along the Black, White, and Cache Rivers (northern and eastern Arkansas).

A record crest of 29.0 feet was reached along the Black River at Pocahontas (Randolph County) on May 2nd (breaking the previous record of 28.5 feet in late April, 2011). Prior to this unprecedented rise, evacuations were ordered on the east side of town, and Highway 67 was shut down.

 

Pocahontas (Randolph County) and surrounding areas were inundated with water from an overflowing Black River (and failed levees along the river) on 05/03/2017. This is looking north from Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County). As the White River climbed steadily at Georgetown (White County), Highway 36 went under water. Because this was the only road out of town, people were forced to travel via boat. The photos are courtesy of Tracy Brengard (via Twitter), Ron Snyder (via Facebook), and Debra Lang (via Facebook) respectively.
Flooding at Pocahontas (Randolph County)  |  Flooding at Georgetown (White County)
Boating to Work from Georgetown (White County)
In the pictures: Pocahontas (Randolph County) and surrounding areas were inundated with water from an overflowing Black River (and failed levees along the river) on 05/03/2017. This is looking north from Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County). As the White River climbed steadily at Georgetown (White County), Highway 36 went under water. Because this was the only road out of town, people were forced to travel via boat. The photos are courtesy of Tracy Brengard (via Twitter), Ron Snyder (via Facebook), and Debra Lang (via Facebook) respectively.
 

On the 3rd, the river started dropping as a local levee failed in multiple spots. This led to imminent and widespread flooding in parts of Lawrence and Randolph Counties. A Flash Flood Emergency (mentioning "an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation") was issued by the National Weather Service in Memphis, TN at 831 am CDT.

 

 

In the days to follow, the White River overflowed. At Georgetown (White County), a stretch of Highway 36 became a lake, and the town became an island. Extensive sandbagging took place at Des Arc (Prairie County) and Clarendon (Monroe County) to help keep some homes and businesses dry. According to the the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, water engulfed more than 950,000 acres of cropland (in 21 of 75 counties), causing over $175 million in losses (especially to rice, soybeans, and corn).

Water drained very slowly (into an inflated Mississippi River), and minor to moderate flooding continued along the lower White River through early June.

 

Honorable Mention: March 11 (Snow)
Temperatures were in the 30s across northern Arkansas with snow toward the Missouri border at 300 pm CST on 03/11/2017. It was raining toward central sections of the state, with a few showers farther south.
In the picture: Temperatures were in the 30s across northern Arkansas with snow toward the Missouri border at 300 pm CST on 03/11/2017. It was raining toward central sections of the state, with a few showers farther south.
 

There is one winter episode to mention. On March 10th, a front pushed to the south and it started turning cooler and dried out. Data showed storm systems forming along the front, and pulling moisture back into the region on the 11th.

As moisture returned, showers popped up during the morning of the 11th. Temperatures were only in the 30s and 40s. In the northern two to three rows of counties, the atmosphere cooled aloft in the afternoon. Subfreezing air overhead and a lack of melting yielded snow, and it was heavy at times.

 

Preliminary snowfall totals on 03/11/2017.
In the picture: Preliminary snowfall totals on 03/11/2017.
 

More than four inches of snow piled up at a few locations in the north. At Cave City (Sharp County), 5.0 inches was measured, with 4.8 inches at Calico Rock (Izard County), 4.0 inches at Mountain Home (Baxter County) and Swifton (Jackson County), 3.8 inches near Jonesboro (Craighead County) and Snow (Marion County), and 3.5 inches at Batesville (Independence County), Bergman (Boone County), Onia (Stone County), and Salem (Fulton County).

 

More Snow Than Expected

The forecast called for one to two inches of snow at most. Maximum reported amounts were more than double expected totals. There are several reasons why this happened:

(1) Underestimated Moisture: It was thought that a quarter to a half inch liquid would be available for snowmaking. In reality, there was a half to three quarters of an inch.

(2) Faster Changover: The switch from rain to snow was supposed to occur in the late afternoon. The transition happened several hours sooner.

(3) Higher Rates: Instead of a nice steady snow, there were bursts of snow that piled up faster than anticipated.

(4) Overestimated Warm Ground: There was way too much emphasis on melting of snow given soil temperatures in the 50s. Snow fell more quickly than it could melt.