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Severe Storms Then Sharply Colder on December 17-19, 2016
 
A cold front and mild air was followed by Arctic high pressure ("H") and sharply colder conditions on 12/17/2016. Model data showed temperatures (dashed yellow lines) falling across Arkansas, with thunderstorms developing in southeast sections of the state and light wintry precipitation across the north.
Surface Features (1200 am CST 12/18)  |  Temps/Precip (1200 pm CST 12/17)
Temps/Precip (600 pm CST 12/17)  |  Temps/Precip (1200 am CST 12/18)
In the pictures: A cold front and mild air was followed by Arctic high pressure ("H") and sharply colder conditions on 12/17/2016. Model data showed temperatures (dashed yellow lines) falling across Arkansas, with thunderstorms developing in southeast sections of the state and light wintry precipitation across the north.
 

Winter got off to a fast start, with cold air arriving during the first week of December. Through the 11th, average temperatures were generally one to more than three degrees below average. Toward the middle of the month, it promised to get even colder.

 

It felt like spring during the morning of 12/17/2016, with temperatures 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the previous day.  By 600 pm CST, readings across the northwest half of the state dropped 15 to more than 30 degrees.
Temperatures (900 am CST 12/17)  |  24 Hour Temp Change (900 am CST 12/17)
Temperatures (600 pm CST 12/17)  |  9 Hour Temp Change (600 pm CST 12/17)
In the pictures: It felt like spring during the morning of 12/17/2016, with temperatures 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the previous day.  By 600 pm CST, readings across the northwest half of the state dropped 15 to more than 30 degrees.
 

A cold front was off to the northwest in the Plains on the 17th. As the front approached, temperatures during the morning climbed into the 60s to lower 70s at most locations. The front surged across the region in the afternoon, with readings falling into the 20s toward the Missouri border by 600 pm CST.

 

Low temperatures on 11/20/2016.
In the picture: There was a slight to enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms in the southeast half of  Arkansas on 12/17/2016. The forecast is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

Given springlike weather ahead of the front, and such a large temperature contrast surrounding the front, there was some concern about severe thunderstorms developing during the afternoon and evening hours. The target area for storms was the southeast half of Arkansas.

 

 

A variety of weather conditions surrounded the front on 11/18/2016. Blizzard conditions were expected in parts of the upper Midwest, with a freeze in the southern Plains. In Kentucky, dry air and increasing winds along with existing drought conditions elevated the wildfire danger.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed showers and thunderstorms in southeast Arkansas and a light wintry mix across the northwest at 838 pm CST on 12/17/2016. 
 

A line of showers and thunderstorms evolved and slowly progressed toward Louisiana and Mississippi. A few storms managed to become severe.

 

There was strong rotation noted in eastern Grant County at 659 pm CST on 12/17/2016. A Tornado Warning was in effect at the time (issued 24 minutes earlier). A weak tornado (rated EF1) tore the roof off of a home about 5 miles north of Grapevine (Grant County).
Rotation in Grant County  |  Damage North of Grapevine (Grant County)
In the pictures: There was strong rotation noted in eastern Grant County at 659 pm CST on 12/17/2016. A Tornado Warning was in effect at the time (issued 24 minutes earlier). A weak tornado (rated EF1) tore the roof off of a home about 5 miles north of Grapevine (Grant County).
 

One storm had strong rotation as it tracked from Dallas County into Grant County. About 5 miles north of Grapevine (Grant County), a trained storm spotter reported a tornado around 700 pm CST. This is about the time a house was heavily damaged by a weak tornado (rated EF1) as confirmed by the National Weather Service.

 

 

Twenty four hour precipitation through 600 am CST on 12/18/2016.
In the picture: Twenty four hour precipitation through 600 am CST on 12/18/2016.
 

As far as rainfall, one to two inch amounts were reported in eastern sections of the state. Twenty four hour totals through 600 am CST on the 18th included 1.80 inches at Alicia (Lawrence County), 1.42 inches at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), 1.32 inches at Des Arc (Prairie County), 1.20 inches at Blytheville (Mississippi County), and 1.17 inches at Keo (Lonoke County).

Where moisture was limited north of the front, there were areas of light snow, sleet and freezing drizzle as temperatures plummeted. In the northwest (parts of the Ozark Mountains), snow accumulations were a half inch or less. 

 

There was patchy ice on several highways across northern Arkansas at 1100 pm CST on 12/17/2016. The image is courtesy of IDriveArkansas.
In the picture: There was patchy ice on several highways across northern Arkansas at 1100 pm CST on 12/17/2016. The image is courtesy of IDriveArkansas.
 

There was just enough precipitation in the northwest to create patches of ice on roads. Northwest winds made it feel very cold, with wind chill indices dropping below zero in places. At 600 am CST on the 18th, the wind chill factor at Highfill and Siloam Springs (both in Benton County) was 10 below zero.

 

Temperatures at 700 am CST on 12/19/2016.
In the picture: Temperatures at 700 am CST on 12/19/2016.
 

Arctic high pressure settled over the area on the 19th. Low temperatures were in the single digits and teens. It was 1 degree at Kingston (Madison County). The low was 3 degrees at Fayetteville and Winslow (both in Washington County), and also at Compton (Newton County) and Lead Hill (Boone County). At Dennard (Van Buren County) and Gilbert (Searcy County), it was 5 degrees.

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on December 17, 2016 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were a few reports of severe weather in southern Arkansas on December 17, 2016. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on December 17, 2016 (in red).