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Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
December, 2017 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
Given a lack of rain in the fall, the big story as December began was drought. Fortunately, rain came in buckets toward the middle of the month, and there was some drought relief. Temperatures took a nose dive as the month ended, with light ice and some accidents in western Arkansas.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were several record high and low temperatures tied or broken in December. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 16T (12/27), 12 (12/28), 12 (12/31)
Jacksonville 15 (12/28)
North Little Rock 19T (12/27), 14 (12/28)
Stuttgart 21T (12/27), 19 (12/28)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
El Dorado 76 (12/22)
Fayetteville 69 (12/21)
Monticello 74T (12/22)
Mount Ida 76T (12/03), 77 (12/11)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

 Welcome Rain/A Cold Ending
 
The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of showers and thunderstorms moving through Arkansas during the evening of 12/04/2017.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of showers and thunderstorms moving through Arkansas during the evening of 12/04/2017. 
 

Widespread appreciable rain was something Arkansas had not experienced for awhile. It was the driest fall (September, October, and November) on record in parts of the state, and drought conditions were worsening. Fortunately, a storm system and cold front from the Plains brought welcome downpours on December 4th.

Ahead of the front, a line of showers and thunderstorms moved through the region during the evening. A large part of the state received a half to an inch and a half of rain. Isolated storms became severe. Quarter size hail was reported a few miles west of Mena (Polk County). Trees were snapped and a well house was destroyed near Lonsdale (Saline County). Trees were downed and roof damage occurred in west Little Rock (Pulaski County).

 

Dry in Southern California

In early December, winds kicked up in southern California, and at least two dozen wildfires started. The fires forced more than 200,000 residents to evacuate, One of the largest of these fires ravaged areas just northwest of Los Angeles, CA, and reduced over 1,000 structures to ashes. This monster fire started on the 4th, and was still burning two weeks later. The fire torched at least 270,000 acres, making it the largest December blaze in state history.

 

Heavy snow blanketed areas from south Texas to the Carolinas on December 7-9, 2017.
In the picture: Heavy snow blanketed areas from south Texas to the Carolinas on December 7-9, 2017.
 

After it rained here, there was a freak snowstorm across the deep south from December 7th through the 9th. Parts of eastern Alabama, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina got over 8 inches of powder. Several inches of snow was also measured in portions of south Texas, including close to half a foot at Falfurrias, TX. Thunder accompanied snow on the south side of Corpus Christi, TX. Snowfall rates kicked up, and 7 inches of flakes fell. At Brownsville, TX, only 0.3 inch of snow accumulated on the 8th, but this surpassed the seasonal total (0.1 inch) at Chicago, IL. It was only the second known measurable snow since 1895.

 

There was a moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) in much of Arkansas except the extreme east on 12/12/2017.
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 0%
D0-D4 100%
D1-D4 97.45%
D2-D4 86.65%
D3-D4 42.40%
D4 0%
In the picture: There was a moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) in much of Arkansas except the extreme east on 12/12/2017.
 
Heading into the middle of the month, there was not much of a dent in the drought. There was a high wildfire danger and burn bans posted in a whopping 70 (of 75) counties on the 14th! More rain was needed, and it was about to happen. 

 

Abundant moisture and showers/isolated thunderstorms preceded a storm system ("L") aloft (at 500 millibars/18,000 feet) from the southwest United States on 12/19/2017.
Upper Air Map at 900 am CST (12/19)  |  Upper Air Map at 900 pm CST (12/19)
Upper Air Map at 900 am CST (12/20)
In the pictures: Abundant moisture and showers/isolated thunderstorms preceded a storm system ("L") aloft (at 500 millibars/18,000 feet) from the southwest United States on 12/19/2017.
 

The Subtropical Jet became active, and drove multiple storm systems toward Arkansas from the southwest. The systems tapped into abundant moisture, and several rounds of precipitation occurred from the 16th through the 22nd.

 

Seven day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/23/2017.
In the picture: Seven day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/23/2017.
 

Seven day rainfall through 600 am CST on the 23rd included 7.25 inches at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), 6.88 inches at Little Rock (Pulaski County), 6.35 inches at West Memphis (Crittenden County), 6.03 inches at Texarkana (Miller County), 5.27 inches at Monticello (Drew County), and 5.03 inches at Hot Springs (Garland County). This was one of the wettest weeks in all of 2017 across Arkansas. Following the event (on the 23rd), the wildfire danger was low and only one county had a burn ban.

Following this huge episode, liquid for December was above to well above average by one to more than two inches in many locations. The only exception was the north, with subpar rainfall (by less than an inch and a half) at Fayetteville (Washington County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Harrison (Boone County), and Jonesboro (Craighead County).

 

Precipitation in December, 2017
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.91 3.24 -1.33 59%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.88 3.20 -1.32 59%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.02 4.77 -0.75 84%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 2.28 3.29 -1.01 69%
Little Rock (C AR) 7.74 4.97 +2.77 156%
West Memphis (EC AR) 7.65 5.42 +2.23 141%
Texarkana (SW AR) 6.59 5.05 +1.54 130%
El Dorado (SC AR) 5.63 5.18 +0.45 109%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 8.28 5.44 +2.84 152%

 

Northwest winds aloft drove Arctic high pressure ("H") and very cold air toward Arkansas from Canada on 12/31/2017.
In the picture: Northwest winds aloft drove Arctic high pressure ("H") and very cold air toward Arkansas from Canada on 12/31/2017.
 

December closed with very cold air building into Arkansas from the upper Midwest on the 31st. By 200 am CST, temperatures ranged from the upper teens in northern sections of the state to the upper 30s in the southwest.

 

Light freezing drizzle and freezing fog created patches of ice on roadways in western Arkansas early on 12/31/2017. The map is courtesy of IDriveArkansas.
In the picture: Light freezing drizzle and freezing fog created patches of ice on roadways in western Arkansas early on 12/31/2017. The map is courtesy of IDriveArkansas.
 

Patches of ice developed on roads in the west from Springdale (Washington County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Booneville (Logan County), and Waldron (Scott County). Along Interstate 49, numerous accidents were reported.

 

In the picture: Accidents were reported in parts of western Arkansas due to icy roads early on 12/31/2017.
 

Near Mountainburg (Crawford County), two semi-trucks and a pickup truck were involved in an accident, and this blocked traffic temporarily. Minor injuries were noted. Farther north around Springdale (Washington County), at least twenty cars crashed or went into ditches due to the ice. According to a source with the Arkansas Department of Transportation, motorists were driving with too much confidence at dangerously high speeds because the ice was not obvious and difficult to detect (i.e. thin/scattered).  

While the sun came out across much of the area on the 31st, it did not heat up. In fact, by 300 pm CST, most locations (except across the extreme south) had subfreezing temperatures. It felt even colder given breezy north to northeast winds.

 

The new year (2018) began with very cold low temperatures in the single digits and teens on 01/01/2018. Wind chill index values were below zero at 600 am CST in northern and eastern sections of the state.
Low Temperatures (01/01)  |  Wind Chills at 600 am CST (01/01)
In the pictures: The new year (2018) began with very cold low temperatures in the single digits and teens on 01/01/2018. Wind chill index values were below zero at 600 am CST in northern and eastern sections of the state.
 

Breezy conditions continued into the overnight hours. We rang in the new year (2018) with wind chill index values ranging from zero to 15 below zero in much of the north and east. Low temperatures on January 1st were in the single digits and teens. At Compton (Newton County), the mercury dipped to 2 below zero. It was zero at Lead Hill (Boone County) and Winslow (Washington County), and 1 above zero at Harrison (Boone County) and Mountain Home (Baxter County).

 

Links of Interest
December 4, 2017 (appreciable rain/isolated severe storms)
December 16-23, 2017 (heavy to excessive rain)
December 31, 2017 - January 3, 2018 (very cold/light ice)

 

Additional December Details
 
For more details about December, 2017...go to the "Temperatures and Precipitation" section below.

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
After a mostly mild beginning to December, temperatures cooled off at the end of the month. Overall, readings were at or little above average. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. December, 2017 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

December, 2017 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was below average in northern Arkansas, and mostly above average farther south. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

To right, a look at precipitation across the state. December, 2017 Precipitation in Arkansas

 

For a look at actual temperatures and precipitation in Arkansas as measured by the cooperative observer network, click here.