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
 
There was a moderate (D1) drought in portions of northern and western Arkansas on 10/10/2017.

There was a moderate drought (D1) in portions of northern and western Arkansas heading into mid-October. It was abnormally dry (D0) across much of the state except the east. Next Page Update: October 20

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 32.06%
D0-D4 67.94%
D1-D4 29.75%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There was a moderate drought (D1) in portions of northern and western Arkansas on 10/10/2017.
 
As of October 13th, there was high wildfire danger in the southwest, with a mild wildfire danger elsewhere. Burn bans were posted in 30 of 75 counties. 
 
 
Drought conditions as of 10/10/2017.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 10/10/2017.
 

Across the country, a severe to exceptional drought (D2 to D4) existed from Montana into the Dakotas, and also in southern Iowa. There was a moderate drought (D1) in the Pacific Northwest and the southwest U.S. Abnormally dry conditions were expanding from the Rockies into the central U.S., the Ohio Valley, and New England, with a moderate drought (D1) in places.

After a wet summer (June, July, and August) in Arkansas, and the wettest summer on record in places such as North Little Rock (Pulaski County), the rain shut off in the fall. October rainfall totals (through the 12th) show this convincingly, especially across the southern counties. Under a tenth of an inch of rain (5 percent of average or less) was measured at El Dorado (Union County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Texarkana (Miller County).  

 

Precipitation in October, 2017 (Through the 12th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.26 1.72 -0.46 73%
Harrison (NC AR) 0.45 1.33 -0.88 34%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 0.14 1.63 -1.49 9%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.01 1.59 -0.58 64%
Little Rock (C AR) 0.22 1.69 -1.47 13%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.11 1.63 -0.52 68%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.08 1.71 -1.63 5%
El Dorado (SC AR) 0.03 1.86 -1.83 2%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 0.04 1.77 -1.73 2%

 

It was a record dry September, 2017 at more than a dozen sites across the northwest half of Arkansas.
In the picture: It was a record dry September, 2017 at more than a dozen sites across the northwest half of Arkansas.
 
In September, parts of the northwest half of the state got less than a half inch of precipitation. There were spots that received no liquid at all. Rainfall was less than 25 percent of normal at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Harrison (Boone County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and Little Rock (Pulaski County).

 

Precipitation in September, 2017
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.50 4.82 -3.32 31%
Harrison (NC AR) 0.58 4.20 -3.62 14%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 0.39 3.06 -2.67 13%
Fort Smith (WC AR) TRACE 4.05 -4.05 0%
Little Rock (C AR) 0.45 3.18 -2.73 14%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.47 2.84 -1.37 52%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.00 3.43 -2.43 29%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.27 3.11 -1.84 41%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 0.80 2.69 -1.89 30%

 

Yearly (2017) amounts through September remained above average in much of the region, with a few departures in the plus category by more than a half foot. Parts of western Arkansas (mainly the Ouachita Mountains) were short on water by at least four inches.

 

Precipitation in 2017 (Through September)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 44.34 36.71 +7.63 121%
Harrison (NC AR) 35.76 33.16 +2.60 108%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 40.01 34.17 +5.84 117%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 42.11 33.41 +8.70 126%
Little Rock (C AR) 37.74 34.59 +3.15 109%
West Memphis (EC AR) 35.29 37.65 -2.36 94%
Texarkana (SW AR) 40.15 34.85 +5.30 115%
El Dorado (SC AR) 38.61 37.66 +0.95 103%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 41.31 35.88 +5.43 115%

 

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

Through December, 2017, the drought in the northern Rockies/northern Plains will probably persist. The same is true in the southwest. From eastern Oklahoma and southern Missouri to the central Gulf Coast (including Arkansas), drought conditions will likely expand and may worsen. For the remainder of the country, no significant drought problems are expected.

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