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Heavy Rain on November 28, 2016
 
Temperatures were in the 30s and 40s at 400 am CST on 11/27/2016. There were areas of fog, and the potential of freezing fog in northeast Arkansas.
In the picture: Temperatures were in the 30s and 40s at 400 am CST on 11/27/2016. There were areas of fog, and the potential of freezing fog in northeast Arkansas.
 

This event began with cold conditions and areas of fog early on the 27th. It was one of several consecutive mornings featuring fog, with lots of clouds and below average temperatures in the afternoon. This was the theme heading into the 28th. There was a new cold front looming to the west, and there was a chance of severe weather ahead of the front. It all hinged on whether it would finally warm up to fuel developing storms.

 

A cold front pushed through Arkansas on 11/28/2016, with widespread showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front. Looking aloft, 40 to 60+ knot south winds were noted at 850 millibars (5000 feet), with west/southwest winds from 70 to 90+ knots at 500 millibars (18000 feet). These winds gave developing storms the potential to produce damaging gusts. Winds also turned with height, creating rotation and making isolated tornadoes possible. Given the scenario, the target area for severe storms was the southeast half of the state.
Surface Map at 1200 pm CST (11/28)  |  Winds Aloft at 1200 pm CST (11/28)
Severe Weather Outlook (11/28)
In the pictures: A cold front pushed through Arkansas on 11/28/2016, with widespread showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front. Looking aloft, 40 to 60+ knot south winds were noted at 850 millibars (5000 feet), with west/southwest winds from 70 to 90+ knots at 500 millibars (18000 feet). These winds gave developing storms the potential to produce damaging gusts. Winds also turned with height, creating rotation and making isolated tornadoes possible. Given the scenario, the target area for severe storms was the southeast half of the state.
 
During the afternoon of the 28th, data showed a possibility of readings well into the 60s/lower 70s in southeast Arkansas. That would certainly get storms going. There was also a lot of wind energy surrounding the front, which increased the chances of damaging gusts in developing storms. This led to a slight to enhanced risk of severe storms across southeast sections of the state.

 

 

As the 28th began, rain arrived from Oklahoma. Clouds and precipitation (heavy at times) did not allow temperatures to climb much. By lunchtime, the back edge of the rain was already at Little Rock (Pulaski County). Rain exited the region to the east before sunset.

In the pictures: Simulated radar images showed showers and thunderstorms building across Arkansas during the morning of 11/28/2016, and then quickly exiting to the east in the afternoon.

 

In the end, it just did not get warm enough for any severe weather locally. High temperatures on the 28th were in the mid 50s to mid 60s.

High temperatures were only in the 50s and 60s on 11/28/2016.
In the picture: High temperatures were only in the 50s and 60s on 11/28/2016.

 

Temperatures to the north and west were very cold at 500 millibars (18000 feet). Readings were between -24°C and -28°C (-11°F to -18°F). This destabilized the atmosphere over the upper Midwest, and helped spawn tornadoes in Iowa. It also cooled aloft over Louisiana and Mississippi, but it also warmed up near the ground (in the 70s). This was the fuel storms needed to produce damaging winds.
500 Millibar Temperatures at 600 pm CST (11/28)  |  Severe Weather Reports (11/28)
In the pictures: Temperatures to the north and west were very cold at 500 millibars (18000 feet). Readings were between -24°C and -28°C (-11°F to -18°F). This destabilized the atmosphere over the upper Midwest, and helped spawn tornadoes in Iowa. It also cooled aloft over Louisiana and Mississippi, but it also warmed up near the ground (in the 70s). This was the fuel storms needed to produce damaging winds.
 

Meanwhile, it felt more like spring (readings in the 70s) to our south/east. Storms flourished in Louisiana and Mississippi, and there were numerous reports of trees and power lines downed. Interestingly, there were also tornadoes well to the north in Iowa. How? Temperatures were only in the 40s/50s there. However, while the atmosphere did not destabilize much downstairs (near the ground), it did upstairs (overhead). Much colder air arrived aloft, and this helped clouds bubble up and trigger the tornadoes (mostly brief and weak). In western North Dakota, subfreezing air extended to the ground, and snow was flying. One to two feet of powder was in the forecast.

 

Twenty four hour rainfall through 600 pm CST on 11/28/2016.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall through 600 pm CST on 11/28/2016.
 

While big storms failed to blossom around here, there was appreciable rain. Amounts generally ranged from three quarters of an inch to an inch and a half, with locally over two inches. Less than half an inch fell in the far northwest. At Jonesboro (Craighead County), 2.36 inches was measured in the twenty four hour period ending at 600 pm CST on the 28th. Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) got 2.05 inches, with 1.83 inches at Little Rock (Pulaski County), 1.58 inches at West Memphis (Crittenden County), and 1.56 inches at Monticello (Drew County).

It was not enough liquid to wipe out November precipitation deficits. Monthly totals were mostly one to more than two inches below average. At Fayetteville (Washington County), rainfall was on the low side by 3.13 inches (21 percent of normal).

 

Precipitation in November, 2016 (Through the 28th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 0.83 3.96 -3.13 21%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.34 3.97 -2.63 34%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 3.50 4.51 -1.01 78%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.59 4.16 -2.57 38%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.56 4.89 -2.33 52%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.59 4.63 -1.04 78%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.41 4.44 -1.03 77%
El Dorado (SC AR) 2.77 4.51 -1.74 61%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 3.92 4.47 -0.55 88%

 

The satellite showed thunderstorms blowing up from Louisiana to the Tennessee Valley during the afternoon and evening of 11/29/2016. Storm Relative Helicity (SRH), or the potential for rotation, was 300 to 500 m2/s2 (high) from 0-3 kilometers at 1145 pm CST. Numerous warnings (Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado) were issued by the National Weather Service. Rain affected areas affected by serious drought conditions.
Satellite at 545 pm CST (11/29)  |  Satellite at 845 pm CST (11/29)
Satellite at 1145 pm CST (11/29)  |  Storm Relative Helicity at 1145 pm CST (11/29)
Warnings (Mainly 11/28 to 11/30)  |  Drought Monitor (11/22)
In the pictures: The satellite showed thunderstorms blowing up from Louisiana to the Tennessee Valley during the afternoon and evening of 11/29/2016. Storm Relative Helicity (SRH), or the potential for rotation, was 300 to 500 m2/s2 (high) from 0-3 kilometers at 1145 pm CST. Numerous warnings (Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado) were issued by the National Weather Service. Rain affected areas affected by serious drought conditions.
 

As rain and the aforementioned front exited to the east, winds kicked up in Gatlinburg, TN during the evening of the 28th. Wildfires were ongoing due to extremely dry conditions and a continuing drought. Gusts exceeding 60 mph fanned the flames, and fire spread rapidly. Hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed. At least 13 people were killed. This was supposedly the worst wildfire disaster in Tennessee in a century.

The front stalled just to the southeast of Arkansas on the 29th. The front was a focus for additional storms, and these became severe. Strong tornadoes (rated EF2/EF3) ripped through northern Alabama and southern Tennessee, and these were deadly. At least 7 fatalities were reported.

Also on the 29th, 2.32 inches of rain dumped on Atlanta, GA. It had not rained (at least 0.01 inch) since October 16th (a 43 day stretch). This was the longest period without measurable rain on record in the city, breaking the previous mark of 39 days in 1884!