National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
How Dry Is It?
Abnormally Dry Conditions
At times, below normal precipitation will lead to a lack of ground water and worsening drought conditions in Arkansas. Check out the latest conditions below.
 
Monitoring Drought in Arkansas
 
Drought Status
 
Moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) conditions were noted in northwest Arkansas on 03/14/2017.

There were moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) conditions in northwest Arkansas in mid-March. Next Page Update: April 1st

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 23.00%
D0-D4 77.00%
D1-D4 39.95%
D2-D4 18.29%
D3-D4 2.00%
D4 0%
In the picture: Moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) conditions were noted in northwest Arkansas on 03/14/2017.
 
As of March 22nd, there was a moderate fire danger in most areas north and west of Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Pocahontas (Randolph County). There were no burn bans posted. 
 
 
Drought conditions as of 03/14/2017.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 03/14/2017.
 

Across the country, severe to extreme drought (D2/D3) continued in portions of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. Similar conditions were found in parts of New England, Oklahoma, and here at home. Conditions had vastly improved in California.

In Arkansas, it was dry in March (through the 21st) across the southwest half of the state. Rainfall deficits over two inches were common at places such as El Dorado (Union County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Texarkana (Miller County).

 

Precipitation in March, 2017 (Through the 21st)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 2.49 2.60 -0.11 96%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.31 2.47 +0.84 134%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 3.76 2.96 +0.80 127%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.04 2.52 -1.48 41%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.86 3.10 -0.24 92%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.60 3.36 -0.76 77%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.67 2.87 -2.20 23%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.01 3.30 -2.29 31%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.66 3.72 -2.06 45%

 

The year (2017) started off with similar deficits in January/February across the northern and eastern counties. Precipitation was at least two inches below average at Fayetteville (Washington County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in 2017 (Through February)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.50 5.65 -2.15 62%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.58 5.20 -1.62 69%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 5.61 7.15 -1.54 78%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 4.82 5.57 -0.75 87%
Little Rock (C AR) 5.00 7.21 -2.21 69%
West Memphis (EC AR) 4.99 8.63 -3.64 58%
Texarkana (SW AR) 8.64 7.39 +1.25 117%
El Dorado (SC AR) 8.41 9.09 -0.68 93%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 6.30 7.82 -1.52 81%

 

Ninety day departure from average precipitation as of 03/21/2017. The graphic is courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
90-Day Precipitation (Southern States)  |  90-Day Precipitation (Arkansas)
In the pictures: Ninety day departure from average precipitation as of 03/21/2017. The graphics are courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center and the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP).
 

From December 22nd through March 21st (90 days), northwest Arkansas (Climate Districts 2 and 4) needed rain the most. During this time frame, rainfall in this part of the state was subpar by three to six inches. 

 

Departure from average precipitation in 2016.
In the picture: Departure from average precipitation in 2016.
 

For all of 2016, umbrellas did not come out much in the northwest. Precipitation totals at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) were over fourteen inches below average.

 

Precipitation in 2016
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 33.37 48.51 -15.14 69%
Harrison (NC AR) 35.41 44.14 -8.73 80%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 52.56 48.10 +4.46 109%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 31.18 45.46 -14.28 69%
Little Rock (C AR) 56.12 49.75 +6.37 113%
West Memphis (EC AR) 53.02 52.23 +0.79 102%
Texarkana (SW AR) 49.33 49.65 -0.32 99%
El Dorado (SC AR) 61.64 52.92 +8.72 116%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 54.38 51.15 +3.23 106%

 

Drought outlook through June, 2017.
In the picture: Drought outlook through June, 2017.
 

Drought relief is expected in the central U.S. through June, 2017. Showers and thunderstorms usually ramp up in the spring, and drought may become less of an issue in parts of Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. Drought may go away in New England as well. In the southeast and also toward the Texas panhandle, drought may stick around or expand.  

Drought has been a common theme locally since 2011. The southwest has fared the worst, with a three to four foot (41.37 inches) rainfall deficit at Texarkana (Miller County) in a five year span (through 2015).

 

Precipitation Statistics (2011-2015)
Site 2015 +/- 2014 +/- 2013 +/- 2012 +/- 2011 +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 65.71 +17.20 39.08 -9.43 46.63 -1.88 34.29 -14.22 56.15 +7.64
Harrison (NC AR) 62.64 +18.50 41.20 -2.94 45.26 +1.12 29.53 -14.61 52.01 +7.87
Jonesboro (NE AR) 64.53 +16.43 44.15 -3.95 52.42 +4.32 33.57 -14.53 58.05 +9.95
Fort Smith (WC AR) 73.93 +28.47 42.14 -3.32 47.05 +1.59 33.94 -11.52 46.56 +1.10
Little Rock (C AR) 61.23 +11.48 48.13 -1.62 52.78 +3.03 42.25 -7.50 60.23 +10.48
West Memphis (EC AR) 49.04 -3.19 49.08 -3.15 54.47 +2.24 39.08 -13.15 55.95 +2.37
Texarkana (SW AR) 63.54 +13.89 35.24 -14.41 45.34 -4.31 32.07 -17.58 30.69 -18.96
El Dorado (SC AR) 59.94 +7.02 41.03 -11.89 47.49 -5.43 44.41 -8.51 37.62 -15.30
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 51.31 +0.16 41.41 -9.74 52.66 +1.51 45.69 -5.46 48.70 -2.45

 

There were some drought breakers along the way, such as a deluge from mid-November to mid-December, 2011.

 

Thirty day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/11/2011. Twelve to more than eighteen inches of rain was measured from Mena (Polk County) to Mount Ida (Montgomery County), Russellville (Pope County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Jonesboro (Craighead County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County).
In the picture: Thirty day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/11/2011.

 

Hurricane Isaac brought much needed rain to southern and eastern Arkansas in late August, 2012. Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) had 8.39 inches in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on September 1st.

Hurricane Isaac was just off the coast of Louisiana at 425 pm CDT on 08/28/2012.
In the picture: Hurricane Isaac was just off the coast of Louisiana at 425 pm CDT on 08/28/2012.

 

In September, 2013, areas from Little Rock (Pulaski County) southward got two to four inches of rain, with locally over six inches on the 19th/20th. Some of these amounts exceeded what would normally be expected during the entire month. This busted a short term extreme (D3) drought that peaked just a few days prior to the rain.

 

Precipitation Trends

 

Streamflow and Soil Moisture
 
Most recent streamflow (values in the 25th to 75th percentile are normal)
Most recent soil moisture (values between 30 and 70 percent are normal)

 

Fire Danger

 

The Forecast