National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Monthly Storm Reports and Storm Data
Storm Reports
Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
October, 2017 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
October started off very warm, with record heat in places. The pattern changed during the latter half of the month, with colder air arriving and a couple of widespread freezes occurring. As the transition from warm to cold took place, there was one round of severe weather and widespread wind damage. Unfortunately, appreciable rain was not as widespread, and drought conditions resulted.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were several record high temperatures tied or broken during the first half of October, with about as many record lows later in the month. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 28 (10/28), 26 (10/29)
Hot Springs 29 (10/29)
Jacksonville 32T (10/25), 29 (10/28), 24 (10/29)
Little Rock 31T (10/28), 28 (10/29)
Stuttgart 29 (10/29)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 92T (10/09)
Jacksonville 92T (10/14)
Jonesboro 94T (10/10), 92 (10/14)
North Little Rock 89T (10/07), 91T (10/09), 90T (10/14)
Stuttgart 93T (10/10), 91T (10/14)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

A Warm Start/A Colder End/A Lack of Rain
 
At 500 millibars (mb), or roughly 18,000 feet, a ridge of high pressure (HIGH) over the southeast United States was flattened by an incoming storm system on 10/15/2017. The ridge relocated to the western United States the next day, with a northwest flow over Arkansas.
500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (10/14)  |  500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (10/15)
500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (10/16)
In the pictures: At 500 millibars (mb), or roughly 18,000 feet, a ridge of high pressure (HIGH) over the southeast United States was flattened by an incoming storm system on 10/15/2017. The ridge relocated to the western United States the next day, with a northwest flow over Arkansas.
 

Through the first half of October, a persistent ridge of high pressure yielded very mild conditions and not much rain. Temperatures were 5 to 8 degrees above average in most areas. Drought conditions developed across northern and western Arkansas, and burn bans were posted for at least 30 (of 75) counties by the 14th. On the 15th, the ridge weakened and allowed a cold front to push through the state from the Plains. The front promised to bring cooler air and at least some precipitation.

 

Average Temperatures in October, 2017 (Through the 15th)
Site Avg Temp +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 65.5° +5.2°
Harrison (NC AR) 68.0° +7.0°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 72.1° +8.4°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 71.7° +6.4°
Little Rock (C AR) 72.2° +5.8°
West Memphis (EC AR) 71.3° +6.5°
Texarkana (SW AR) 72.9° +5.8°
El Dorado (SC AR) 72.9° +6.6°
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 72.5° +6.6°

 

A long term drought followed by a dry summer made conditions favorable for wildfires across California in October, 2017. Strong easterly Diablo winds around high pressure ("H") fanned the flames and spread wildfires quickly.
90 Day Percent of Normal Rain in the Western U.S. (Through 10/15)
Percent of Drought Coverage in California (2012-2017)
Surface Map (10/09) Showing Diablo Winds
In the pictures: A long term drought followed by a dry summer made conditions favorable for wildfires across California in October, 2017. Strong easterly Diablo winds around high pressure ("H") fanned the flames and spread wildfires quickly.
 

While it was drying out locally, the situation was dire in California. Following a five year drought (which mostly ended earlier this year), vegetation came back after buckets of winter rain. The vegetation became crispy this summer given prolonged warm/dry weather. Late on October 8th and into the 9th, strong high pressure over the Pacific Northwest pumped strong (50 mph plus) easterly winds into northern sections of the state. One theory (which is under investigation) suggests these Diablo winds (much like the more famous Santa Ana winds over southern California) pushed drought weakened trees into power lines, and triggered numerous wildfires. The flames were fanned by high gusts and spread in a hurry.

 

In the picture: The satellite showed several wildfires in northern California on 10/10/2017.
 

As of mid-October, roughly 250,000 acres (almost 400 square miles) had burned, including over 5,000 structures. At least 2,800 residences were destroyed in Santa Rosa, CA. Miles away from the wildfires, smoke got so bad in San Francisco, CA that people were sent to hospitals, schools were closed, and flights were delayed. The wildfires were blamed for more than 40 deaths.

 

The Fort Smith (SRX) WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of showers and thunderstorms (reflectivity) followed by strong to damaging winds (velocity) at 244 am CDT on 10/22/2017.
Reflectivity at 244 am CDT (10/22)  |  Velocity at 244 am CDT (10/22)
In the pictures: The Fort Smith (SRX) WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a line of showers and thunderstorms (reflectivity) followed by strong to damaging winds (velocity) at 244 am CDT on 10/22/2017.
 

Here at home, a significant storm system and cold front were on the doorstep (the Plains) on October 21st. While beneficial rain was on the menu for drought stricken areas of the north/west, it appeared there would be severe weather. The main concern was damaging winds.

A line of thunderstorms developed from eastern Kansas into western and central Oklahoma and northern Texas during the afternoon and evening. The storms headed to the east with the aforementioned front. By 1257 am CDT on the 22nd, the storms unleashed a 64 mph gust at Fort Smith (Sebastian County).

From there, the storms produced wind damage mainly from west central into central Arkansas (the central third of the state). Gusts reached 60 to 80 mph in places. Close to 20,000 power outages were counted. 

 

Severe weather reports in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 10/22/2017. In Arkansas, wind damage reports were concentrated from west central into central sections of the state. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: Severe weather reports in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 10/22/2017. In Arkansas, wind damage reports were concentrated from west central into central sections of the state. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

Trees were downed and blocked roads in Charleston (Franklin County). More trees were toppled at Mansfield (Scott County), Booneville and Caulksville (both in Logan County). Hunt and Clarksville (both in Johnson County), and Centerville and Ranger (both in Yell County).

 

Damaging winds caused extensive roof and porch damage to this home a few miles north of Evening Shade (Sharp County) just after 400 am CDT on 10/22/2017. The photo is courtesy of Lauren Siebert.
In the picture: Damaging winds caused extensive roof and porch damage to this home a few miles north of Evening Shade (Sharp County) just after 400 am CDT on 10/22/2017. The photo is courtesy of Lauren Siebert.
 

Damage to structures was also reported. A large hole was punched in the side of a house and roofing material was removed at Lavaca (Sebastian County). Parts of a metal roof were peeled back at a church in Green Forest (Carroll County). At Carbon City (Logan County), a roof was partially removed from a building. A home in Hatfield (Polk County) was unlivable because of extensive damage to the roof. Canopy, roof, and pump damage occurred at a grocery store gas station in Dover (Pope County). A chicken house was destroyed just north of Cleveland (Conway County). Awnings were torn off of several buildings in Cabot (Lonoke County). Outbuildings were hit in McRae (White County). Just north of Evening Shade (Sharp County), the roof of a home and a wraparound porch were ripped up.

 

Twenty four hour rainfall through 100 pm CDT on 10/22/2017.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall through 100 pm CDT on 10/22/2017.
 

As far as rainfall, one to more than two inches of liquid was measured in the west. Twenty four hour amounts through 100 pm CDT on the 22nd included 1.98 inches at Highfill (Benton County), 1.93 inches at Fayetteville (Washington County), 1.70 inches at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), 1.67 inches at Texarkana (Miller County), and 1.47 inches at Harrison (Boone County).

Across the southern and eastern counties, there was less precipitation. This is the part of the state that got the least amount of water in October. Monthly totals were less than 30 percent of average at El Dorado (Union County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). At a couple of these sites, under an inch of rain was measured 

 

Precipitation in October, 2017
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.86 4.33 -0.47 89%
Harrison (NC AR) 2.46 3.55 -1.09 69%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.04 4.26 -3.22 24%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.29 4.32 -1.03 76%
Little Rock (C AR) 1.37 4.91 -3.54 28%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.22 4.21 -1.99 53%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.76 4.93 -3.17 36%
El Dorado (SC AR) 0.99 5.19 -4.20 19%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 0.96 5.00 -4.04 19%

 

Well above average temperatures on 10/26/2017 were replaced by much cooler air the next day as readings dropped 25 to more than 35 degrees at most locations.
Temperatures at 300 pm CDT (10/26)  |  Temperatures at 300 pm CDT (10/27)
Twenty Four Hour Temperature Change at 300 pm (10/27)
In the pictures: Well above average temperatures on 10/26/2017 were replaced by much cooler air the next day as readings dropped 25 to more than 35 degrees at most locations.
 

On the 27th, another cold front barreled through Arkansas from the northwest, and temperatures dropped quickly. At 300 pm CDT on the 26th, temperatures were in the upper 70s and lower 80s. Twenty four hours later, readings were in the 40s and 50s.

During the evening of the 27th, there was a brief period of sleet at Little Rock (Pulaski County). Sleet is recorded as snowfall in weather records. This was the earliest snowfall in recorded history (dating back to 1874) locally. The previous record was October 28th of 1925. 

 

Temperatures dropped below 32 degrees (freezing) across much of Arkansas (except the southeast) early on 10/28/2017.
In the picture: Temperatures dropped below 32 degrees (freezing) across much of Arkansas (except the southeast) early on 10/28/2017.
 

By the morning of the 28th, there was a widespread freeze. The mercury bottomed out at 23 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Gilbert (Searcy County), 24 degrees at Marshall (Searcy County), and 25 degrees at De Queen (Sevier County), Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), and Murfreesboro (Pike County).

For locations yet to experience temperatures at or below 32 degrees this fall, the freeze was right on schedule and even a few days early in places. At Little Rock (Pulaski), which had a reading of 31 degrees, the freeze was more than two weeks premature (a typical first freeze is November 14th). Locally, it was the first freeze in October since 1993, and the earliest freeze since October 20th, 1989.

 

Freeze Warnings were posted for all of Arkansas at 630 pm CDT on 10/28/2017 (for the next morning).
In the picture: Freeze Warnings were posted for all of Arkansas at 630 pm CDT on 10/28/2017 (for the next morning).
 

Yet another freeze occurred statewide on the morning of the 29th, officially ending the growing season. Not only was this freeze more widespread than its predecessor, it was a little colder.

It was 21 degrees at Lead Hill (Boone County), Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), and Murfreesboro (Pike County), 23 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Marche (Pulaski County), and 24 degrees at Cabot (Lonoke County), Conway (Faulkner County), Morrilton (Conway County), and Salem (Fulton County).

It froze again at Little Rock (Pulaski), with a reading of 28 degrees. This was the second coldest October temperature on record (which was 27 degrees on the 30th of 1917), and the first time with multiple October freezes since 1957.

 

Links of Interest
October 15, 2017 (turning cooler/some rain/California wildfires)
October 21-24, 2017 (severe storms/windy)
October 28-29, 2017 (widespread freezes)

 

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

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
Temperatures were at or a little above average in October. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. October, 2017 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

October, 2017 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was below to well below average at most locations. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

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

 

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