National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Monthly Storm Reports and Storm Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
Arkansas Yearly Climate Summary (2017)/Pg2
 
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.

 

Events of the Year Nationwide: The Tropics and Wildfires
Major Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast during the evening of 08/25/2017.
In the picture: Major Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast during the evening of 08/25/2017.
 

It was a bad situation to the southwest of Arkansas on August 25th. Harvey had become a major hurricane (Category 4), with 130 mph sustained winds. The system came ashore near Rockport, TX during the late evening, and hit with wind and waves. Numerous homes and businesses were heavily damaged or destroyed, and a 10 to 12 foot wall of water flooded the region. That was phase one of this event.

Phase two of Harvey was the rain, and a lot of it. Clouds unleashed two to more than four feet of precipitation just northeast of where the system went inland. Most of this occurred from the 26th through the 29th.

Why so much rain? Harvey was stuck in eastern Texas because there was nothing to push the system away. There was an impenetrable ridge of high pressure to the west, and a northwest wind flow aloft (forcing Harvey to the south) over the eastern United States.

 

 

Ninety six hour (four day) rainfall through 1200 am CDT on 08/30/2017.
In the picture: Ninety six hour (four day) rainfall through 1200 am CDT on 08/30/2017.
 

Through the 29th, one site on the east side of Houston, TX (Cedar Bayou) reported 51.88 inches of rain. This is the most rain from a single tropical system in the continental United States, topping the previous record of 48 inches at Medina, TX with Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978. Almost 40 inches of liquid was measured for the month at Houston's Intercontinental Airport, making August, 2017 the wettest month on record locally.

Colossal amounts of rain led to epic and catastrophic flooding, with water flowing into thousands of structures and many calls for help from residents. One local meteorologist estimated 100,000 homes flooded. Both airports (Intercontinental and Hobby) were closed. Just northeast of town, multiple explosions happened at a chemical plant in Crosby, TX early on the 31st. The chemicals needed to stay cool, but generators used to power refrigerators (when electricity failed) became waterlogged.

 

A Year of Rain in Four Days

In an average year at Little Rock (Pulaski County), 49.75 inches of rain falls (based on data from 1981 to 2010). Parts of Houston, TX got this much or more liquid in four days!

 

Roughly 80 miles away (to the northeast), a staggering 26.03 inches of rain swamped Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX on the 29th. This more than doubled the local one day precipitation record of 12.76 inches on May 19, 1923. It was also more than any month on record, topping the 22.74 inches received in November of 1902. Another 14.50 inches dumped the previous two days.

Much of the two city area was transformed into a lake. A shelter was evacuated as it began filling with water. The largest oil refinery in the country was forced to shut down. The Neches River was expected to crest (in early September) above the previous high mark (in October, 1994) by six feet. A pumping station along the river became overwhelmed early on the 31st, and left residents with no clean water supply.

To add to the chaos, more than a dozen brief tornadoes were counted in eastern Texas. This dire situation led to at least 80 fatalities. One drowning victim was a police officer trying to get to work through a flooded underpass in the darkness.

 

Hurricane Irma tracked toward Florida in the forty eight hour period ending at 1215 pm CDT on 09/09/2017.
Satellite at 1215 pm CDT (09/07)  |  Satellite at 1215 pm CDT (09/08)
Satellite at 1215 pm CDT (09/09)
In the pictures: Hurricane Irma tracked toward Florida in the forty eight hour period ending at 1215 pm CDT on 09/09/2017.
 

The journey of Irma started 300 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands on August 30th. After traveling more than 3,000 miles and ripping across several Caribbean Islands and northern Cuba, Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys early on September 10th as a Category 4 storm (130 mph winds). Gusts at Key West, FL neared 100 mph before wind observations stopped around 700 am CDT.

At one time, Irma was the strongest tropical system (185 mph winds) with the lowest pressure (913 mb) in the Atlantic Ocean (excluding the Gulf of Mexico and Carribbean Sea). This was the second Atlantic Basin storm with at least Category 4 status to make landfall in the United States in the same season (Harvey was the first). This had not happened since records began in the 1850s.

 

 

In the picture: The National Weather Service in Key West, FL (via Twitter) advised residents to exit the Keys on 09/09/2017 (before the arrival of Hurricane Irma).
 

Before the arrival of Irma, the National Weather Service in Key West, FL urged residents to evacuate (warning "nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe").

After Irma exited the Keys (to the north), counter-clockwise rotation around the system forced water away from the Gulf Coast of Florida (at cities such as Tampa, FL). According to reports, water levels were eerily low, luring people to check out the spectacle. The National Hurricane Center put out an urgent statement at 115 pm CDT that the tide would change dramatically after the passage of the eye of Irma. Water would rush back toward the coast, with a life threatening storm surge of 10 to 15 feet.

At 235 pm CDT, Irma went inland at Marco Island, FL as a Category 3 storm (115 mph sustained winds), and caused considerable damage. Nearby, there was a gust to 142 mph at Naples, FL.

 

Hurricane Irma was near Fort Myers, FL at 700 pm CDT on 09/10/2017, with a projected track northward along the Florida Gulf Coast into southern Georgia.
In the picture: Hurricane Irma was near Fort Myers, FL at 700 pm CDT on 09/10/2017, with a projected track northward along the Florida Gulf Coast into southern Georgia.
 

During the night of the 10th/early on the 11th, Irma proceeded north (at around 15 mph) through Florida, and was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm. Even so, the system knocked out power to more than six million customers across the state. Because Irma was on the move, it was not a colossal rainmaker (mostly 5 to 15 inch amounts) like Harvey, which unleashed more than 50 inches of precipitation in eastern Texas in late August. Harvey was nearly stationary for a few days before departing to begin September.

While Irma was on the decline and not dumping feet of liquid, there were still significant headlines on the 11th. Flash Flood Emergencies were posted for Jacksonville, FL and Charleston, SC due to heavy downpours and a four to six foot storm surge (onshore flow bringing sea water toward land). Parts of these cities were converted into lakes. At the former location, creeks and streams in and near town were at record levels. The tide at the latter location was the third highest in recorded history (the highest was Hurricane Hugo in 1989). There were also several Tornado Warnings issued. At Atlanta, GA, there were several inches of rain and wind gusts to around 60 mph. Across a three state area (Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina), more than 70 people were killed.

 

In the picture: Hurricane Maria dismantled the WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) at San Juan, PR on 09/20/2017.
 

On the 20th, Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico. Maria hit the island as a Category 4 storm (155 mph sustained winds), which was the strongest such storm to hit the area since 1932. Electricity was cut off to nearly everyone, and communication was nearly impossible. There were dwindling supplies of food, water, and medicine, making this a humanitarian crisis. The storm was blamed for over 40 deaths. The National Weather Service in San Juan was impacted, with its WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) ripped apart.

 

A long term drought followed by a dry summer made conditions favorable for wildfires across California in October, 2017. Strong easterly Diablo winds around high pressure ("H") fanned the flames and spread wildfires quickly.
90 Day Percent of Normal Rain in the Western U.S. (Through 10/15)
Percent of Drought Coverage in California (2012-2017)
Surface Map (10/09) Showing Diablo Winds
In the pictures: A long term drought followed by a dry summer made conditions favorable for wildfires across California in October, 2017. Strong easterly Diablo winds around high pressure ("H") fanned the flames and spread wildfires quickly.
 

In early October, the situation was dire in California. Following a five year drought (which mostly ended earlier this year), vegetation came back after buckets of winter rain. The vegetation became crispy this summer given prolonged warm/dry weather. Late on October 8th and into the 9th, strong high pressure over the Pacific Northwest pumped strong (50 mph plus) easterly winds into northern sections of the state. One theory (which is under investigation) suggests these Diablo winds (much like the more famous Santa Ana winds over southern California) pushed drought weakened trees into power lines, and triggered numerous wildfires. The flames were fanned by high gusts and spread in a hurry.

 

In the picture: The satellite showed several wildfires in northern California on 10/10/2017.
 

As of mid-October, roughly 250,000 acres (almost 400 square miles) had burned, including over 5,000 structures. At least 2,800 residences were destroyed in Santa Rosa, CA. Miles away from the wildfires, smoke got so bad in San Francisco, CA that people were sent to hospitals, schools were closed, and flights were delayed. The wildfires were blamed for more than 40 deaths.