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Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
March, 2017 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
It was a very active March, with several rounds of severe weather and at least fifteen tornadoes counted. While it was mild overall, it did turn colder in the middle of the month. There was snow in northern Arkansas followed by a widespread freeze.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were a few record high temperatures in late March. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Fayetteville 81T (03/19), 85 (03/20)
Fort Smith 90T (03/21)
Little Rock 86T (03/21)
North Little Rock 85 (03/21)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Rounds of Severe Weather/Snow in the North
 
The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of thunderstorms blasting quickly across northern Arkansas during the early morning hours of 03/01/2017. The storms were responsible for widespread wind damage.
Radar at 137 am CST (03/01)  |  Radar at 227 am CST (03/01)
Radar at 328 am CST (03/01)  |  Two Supercells at 210 am CST (03/01)
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of thunderstorms blasting quickly across northern Arkansas during the early morning hours of 03/01/2017. The storms were responsible for widespread wind damage. Two supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) were dominant within the line. The northernmost supercell was a prolific downburst producer, with multiple tornadoes associated with the southernmost supercell.
 

March definitely came in like a lion! Following a couple of tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) at Higginson and Kensett (both in White County) on February 28th, forecast models were insistent on a line of storms sweeping into the region from Oklahoma early on March 1st. The line materialized and plowed across the northern half of the state. Storms reached Fort Smith (Sebastian County) by 100 am CST, and were in Blytheville (Mississippi County) by 430 am CST. That's roughly 250 miles in less than four hours! Along the way, trees and power lines were downed and structures were damaged or destroyed. Straight-line wind gusts reached 60 to more than 90 mph.

 

Notable Gusts at Automated Observation Sites (03/01/2017)
Site Gust Time
Walnut Ridge (Lawrence Co) 76 mph 335 am CST
Jonesboro (Craighead Co) 68 mph 350 am CST
Fort Smith (Sebastian Co) 66 mph 1252 am CST
Newport (Jackson Co) 66 mph 332 am CST
Blytheville (Mississippi Co) 63 mph 429 am CST
Flippin (Marion Co) 59 mph 235 am CST
Corning (Clay Co) 58 mph 355 am CST

 

Intense lines of storms like this one sometimes produce brief and weak tornadoes. During this event, there were at least six weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1). They were just south of Lamar (Johnson County), north of Center Ridge (Conway County), at Crossroads (Cleburne County), near Diaz (Jackson County), and close to Possum Grape (Jackson County).

 

 

The satellite showed a line of thunderstorms approaching Arkansas from the northwest during the late evening of 03/06/2017. Ahead of the line, isolated supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) developed mainly in northern and western sections of the state.
Satellite at 815 pm CST (03/06)  |  Satellite at 1015 pm CST (03/06)
Satellite at 1215 am CST (03/07)
In the pictures: The satellite showed a line of thunderstorms approaching Arkansas from the northwest during the late evening of 03/06/2017. Ahead of the line, isolated supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) developed mainly in northern and western sections of the state.
 

The lion kept roaring on the 6th/7th. A new cold front was set to push into the region from the north, and it was accompanied by another line of thunderstorms. Ahead of the line, isolated storms were expected to show signs of rotation, and possibly spawn tornadoes.

 

At North Little Rock (Pulaski County), winds changed direction with height (going from south or 180 degrees to southwest or 235 degrees) at 600 pm CST on 03/06/2017. Winds also increased with height (going from less than 10 knots near the ground to 50 knots at 1.5 km and 3.0 km aloft). This resulted in a curved hodograph (red line), which is a signature that makes tornadoes a concern (assuming strong/severe thunderstorms are expected).

Hodographs (a diagram representing the magnitude and direction of a moving object) revealed winds turning with height and becoming strong, which helped support rotation.

In the picture: At North Little Rock (Pulaski County), winds changed direction with height (going from south or 180 degrees to southwest or 235 degrees) at 600 pm CST on 03/06/2017. Winds also increased with height (going from less than 10 knots near the ground to 50 knots at 1.5 km and 3.0 km aloft). This resulted in a curved hodograph (red line), which is a signature that makes tornadoes a concern (assuming strong/severe thunderstorms are expected).

 

During the late evening of the 6th, a supercell (storm with rotating updrafts) produced a tornado (rated EF1) near Crosses (Madison County). This was confirmed by the National Weather Service in Tulsa, OK. As the storm tracked through areas farther east, a second tornado resulted. This long track tornado (almost 37 miles) ripped through Newton and Searcy Counties, and was rated EF2 by the National Weather Service in Little Rock, AR.

 

Link of Interest
Damage Survey Information

 

Dewpoints climbed (moisture increased) rapidly into the 50s and 60s ahead of a cold front in the six hour period ending at 300 pm CST on 03/09/2017.
Surface Map at 900 am CST (03/09)  |  Surface Map at 300 pm CST (03/09)
In the pictures: Dewpoints climbed (moisture increased) rapidly into the 50s and 60s ahead of a cold front in the six hour period ending at 300 pm CST on 03/09/2017.
 

On the 9th, a cold front arrived from Missouri. Thunderstorms developed along the front and brought mainly hail. Golf ball size stones were measured near Bethesda (Independence County). Hail reached ping pong ball size at Yellville (Marion County), and quarter size at Omaha (Boone County), Ralph (Marion County), Cozahome (Searcy County), and Perryville (Perry County). A 60 mph gust was measured a few miles southeast of Oil Trough (Independence County).

 

Temperatures were in the 30s across northern Arkansas with snow toward the Missouri border at 300 pm CST on 03/11/2017. It was raining toward central sections of the state, with a few showers farther south.
In the picture: Temperatures were in the 30s across northern Arkansas with snow toward the Missouri border at 300 pm CST on 03/11/2017. It was raining toward central sections of the state, with a few showers farther south.
 

The front pushed to the south on the 10th, and it started turning cooler and dried out. Data showed storm systems forming along the front, and pulling moisture back into the region on the 11th.

As moisture returned, showers started popping up during the morning of the 11th. Temperatures were only in the 30s and 40s. In the northern two to three rows of counties, the atmosphere cooled aloft in the afternoon. Given mostly subfreezing air overhead and a lack of melting, rain changed to snow and was heavy at times.

 

Preliminary snowfall totals on 03/11/2017.
In the picture: Preliminary snowfall totals on 03/11/2017.
 

More than four inches of snow piled up at a few locations in the north. At Cave City (Sharp County), 5.0 inches was measured, with 4.8 inches at Calico Rock (Izard County), 4.0 inches at Mountain Home (Baxter County) and Swifton (Jackson County), 3.8 inches near Jonesboro (Craighead County) and Snow (Marion County), and 3.5 inches at Batesville (Independence County), Bergman (Boone County), Onia (Stone County), and Salem (Fulton County).

 

More Snow Than Expected

The forecast called for one to two inches of snow at most. Maximum reported amounts were more than double expected totals. There are several reasons why this happened:

(1) Underestimated Moisture: It was thought that a quarter to a half inch liquid would be available for snowmaking. In reality, there was a half to three quarters of an inch.

(2) Faster Changover: The switch from rain to snow was supposed to occur in the late afternoon. The transition happened several hours sooner.

(3) Higher Rates: Instead of a nice steady snow, there were bursts of snow that piled up faster than anticipated.

(4) Overestimated Warm Ground: There was way too much emphasis on melting of snow given soil temperatures in the 50s. Snow fell more quickly than it could melt.

 

By dawn on the 12th, there was a widespread freeze from Little Rock (Pulaski County) northward. A hard freeze (temperatures well into the 20s) occurred in the Ozark Mountains (of the north). It was 22 degrees at Harrison (Boone County), Lead Hill (Boone County), and Mountain View (Stone County), and 23 degrees at Calico Rock (Izard County), Mountain Home (Baxter County), and Salem (Fulton County). This freeze was not well timed considering that plants had already begun to sprout due to well above average temperatures recently.

 

Tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) caused significant damage around Cato (Faulkner County) and Nance (Saline County) during the evening of 03/24/2017. Damaging straight-line winds pushed over big trees at Bald Knob (White County).
Trailers Destroyed 1.0 Mile East-Southeast of Cato (Faulkner County)
Roof Removed From New Home 3.0 Miles South of Nance (Saline County)
Outbuilding Obliterated 1.0 Mile East of Nance (Saline County)
Huge Tree Downed on Car at Bald Knob (White County)
In the pictures: Tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) caused significant damage around Cato (Faulkner County) and Nance (Saline County) during the evening of 03/24/2017. Damaging straight-line winds pushed over big trees at Bald Knob (White County).
 

It warmed up later in March, and severe weather reappeared. Wind damage reports started rolling in between 1000 pm and 1100 pm CDT on the 24th. Gusts were estimated around 70 mph at Benton (Saline County). Trees and/or power lines were downed at Ferndale (Pulaski County), Austin (Lonoke County), Searcy (White County), and Bald Knob (White County). There was spotty structural damage as well.

Unfortunately, isolated tornadoes were a part of the event. Four trailers were destroyed by a tornado (rated EF2) near Cato (Faulkner County). Six injuries resulted. Two tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) affected areas around Nance (Saline County). Outbuildings were damaged or destroyed, a roof was removed from a new home, and a carport was lofted into trees. Other weak tornadoes (rated EF0) affected areas near Fountain Lake (Garland County) and Marmaduke (Greene County).

 

A Tornado Watch was in effect across western Arkansas by 415 pm CDT on 03/29/2017.
In the picture: A Tornado Watch was in effect across western Arkansas by 415 pm CDT on 03/29/2017.
 

It looked like a big severe weather day on the 29th, but it was not. Even so, the atmosphere was unstable enough to warrant a Tornado Watch across the northwest half of Arkansas. While storms struggled to become strong in the watch area, there were a few reports of large hail. 

Quarter size hail was reported at Havana (Yell County), Diamond City (Boone County), Buffalo City (Marion County), and Damascus (Van Buren County). Meanwhile, there were a number of instances of wind damage and tornadoes south of the state.

There was one brief tornado (rated EF1) confirmed just northeast of Tag (Pope County). This was the 15th tornado in March, and the 20th tornado of the year across the state.

As the month ended, precipitation was the most widespread north of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Amounts were more than an inch and a half above average at Fayetteville (Washington County), Harrison (Boone County), and Jonesboro (Craighead County).

 

Precipitation in March, 2017
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 5.95 3.95 +2.00 151%
Harrison (NC AR) 5.64 3.79 +1.85 149%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 6.27 4.50 +1.77 139%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.75 3.85 -0.10 97%
Little Rock (C AR) 3.87 4.68 -0.81 83%
West Memphis (EC AR) 4.36 4.94 -0.58 88%
Texarkana (SW AR) 2.68 4.20 -1.52 64%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.71 4.75 -3.04 36%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 3.10 5.40 -2.30 57%

 

It was dry farther south. Rainfall deficits over an inch and a half were common at places such as El Dorado (Union County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Texarkana (Miller County).

 

Links of Interest
February 28-March 1, 2017 (severe weather outbreak)
March 6-7, 2017 (more severe storms)
March 9-13, 2017 (hail and snow)
March 24-25, 2017 (severe storms/heavy rain)
March 29-30, 2017 (few severe storms)

 

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

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
Temperatures were above average in March (even though it was cooler than normal in the middle of the month). Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. March, 2017 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

March, 2017 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was below average across the southern half of Arkansas, and at/above average across the north. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

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

 

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