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 to extreme drought (D1 to D3) in much of Arkansas except the extreme east on 12/12/2017.

There was a moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) in much of Arkansas except the extreme east in mid-December. Next Page Update: December 22

 
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.
 
As of December 14th, there was a high wildfire danger, with burn bans posted in a whopping 70 (of 75) counties! 
 
 
Drought conditions as of 12/12/2017.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 12/12/2017.
 

Across the country, a severe to extreme drought (D2/D3) existed from Montana into the Dakotas, and also from southeast Missouri to northeast Texas and northern Louisiana (including much of Arkansas). There was a moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) in the southwest U.S. Abnormally dry conditions were widespread across mainly the southern states, with a moderate drought (D1) in places.

 

Twenty four hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/05/2017.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/05/2017.
 

There was positive news in early December. Widespread rain occurred on the 4th, with half inch to inch and a half amounts over a large part of the state. The heaviest precipitation totals through 600 am CST on the 5th included 1.80 inches at Newport (Jackson County), 1.44 inches at Alum Fork (Saline County), 1.40 inches at Blakely Mountain Dam (Garland County) and Marianna (Lee County), 1.28 inches at Mountain View (Stone County), 1.21 inches at Rohwer (Desha County), and 1.15 inches at Keo (Lonoke County) and Stuttgart (Arkansas County).

An episode like this (featuring more than an inch of liquid over a fairly large area) had not occurred since the early morning hours of October 22nd across the western counties, and August 31st in the east associated with the remnants of Hurricane Harvey.

Even with the rain, monthly precipitation was an inch to more than two inches below average (through the 13th). Less than a quarter of an inch of rain was measured in the north, including Fayetteville (Washington County), Harrison (Boone County), and Jonesboro (Craighead County).

 

Precipitation in December, 2017 (Through the 13th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) TRACE 1.48 -1.48 0%
Harrison (NC AR) TRACE 1.49 -1.49 0%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 0.23 2.27 -2.04 10%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 0.29 1.55 -1.26 19%
Little Rock (C AR) 0.86 2.25 -1.39 38%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.28 2.68 -1.40 48%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.56 2.31 -1.75 24%
El Dorado (SC AR) 0.62 2.39 -1.77 26%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.06 2.46 -1.40 43%

 

The Harvey event was part of a wet summer (June, July, and August) in Arkansas, and the wettest summer on record in places such as North Little Rock (Pulaski County). After that, the rain shut off in the fall. From September 1st through November 30th (91 days), six to twelve inch rainfall deficits were common. Precipitation was less than 25 percent of average in places such as Jonesboro (Craighead County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). At these sites, under three inches of liquid fell.

 

Precipitation from September 1 - November 30, 2017
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 6.47 13.38 -6.91 48%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.83 11.98 -8.15 32%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.43 12.22 -9.79 20%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.57 12.81 -9.24 28%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.24 13.37 -11.13 17%
West Memphis (EC AR) 5.17 12.00 -6.83 43%
Texarkana (SW AR) 4.29 13.18 -8.89 33%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.73 13.19 -9.46 28%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.01 12.52 -10.51 16%

 

It was the driest fall on record at Monticello (Drew County), Mount Ida (Montgomery County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Russellville (Pope County). Records at these sites go back to the 1870s/1800s!

 

 

Yearly (2017) amounts through November still remained above average in some of the region, with a few departures in the plus category by more than three inches. This was the case at Fayetteville (Sebastian County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Parts of southwest Arkansas were short on water by at least eight inches.

 

Precipitation in 2017 (Through November)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 49.31 45.27 +4.04 109%
Harrison (NC AR) 39.01 40.94 -1.93 95%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 42.05 43.33 -1.28 97%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 45.68 42.17 +3.51 108%
Little Rock (C AR) 39.53 44.78 -5.25 88%
West Memphis (EC AR) 38.99 46.81 -7.82 83%
Texarkana (SW AR) 43.44 44.60 -1.16 97%
El Dorado (SC AR) 41.07 47.74 -6.67 86%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 42.52 45.71 -3.19 93%

 

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 February, 2018.
In the picture: Drought outlook through February, 2018.
 

As far as the forecast, rain is expected late on the 16th and into the 17th. Quarter to three quarter inch amounts will be likely, with closer to an inch possible in southern Arkansas. A front from the Plains will also bring chances of showers by the 22nd. Otherwise, it appears December will finish with below to well below normal precipitation.

Looking ahead through February, 2018, the drought in the northern Rockies/northern Plains will probably persist. The same is true in the southwest and here at home. Drought conditions are likely to develop and expand across much of the southern U.S. given a drier than normal outlook during the winter.

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