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.
 
Severe Weather Outbreak on February 28 - March 1, 2017
 
A cold front approached Arkansas from the northwest during the late afternoon of 03/01/2017. Temperatures ahead of the front were well above average, with much cooler air to follow. There was a lot of wind energy aloft surrounding the front. At 300 mb (roughly 30,000 feet), southwest winds howled at 140 knots (161 mph). This not only provided ventilation for storms to breath more readily (inhaling air from below to create powerful updrafts), it helped explain why storms moved so quickly (very fast forward speed).
Surface Map at 600 pm CST (02/28)  |  Temperatures at 300 pm CST (02/28)
Satellite at 1200 am CST (03/01)
In the pictures: A cold front approached Arkansas from the northwest during the late afternoon of 03/01/2017. Temperatures ahead of the front were well above average, with much cooler air to follow. There was a lot of wind energy aloft surrounding the front. At 300 mb (roughly 30,000 feet), southwest winds howled at 140 knots (161 mph). This not only provided ventilation for storms to breath more readily (inhaling air from below to create powerful updrafts), it helped explain why storms moved so quickly (very fast forward speed).
 

Springlike weather was a common theme this winter, and Arkansas was lucky not to get much in the way of severe weather. That luck ran out on February 28th. Afternoon temperatures were in the 70s to lower 80s (fuel for developing storms), winds were strong and turned with height (to make storms rotate), and it appeared that a big event was coming.

 

 

Severe weather was widespread from Arkansas to the Ohio Valley in the twenty four hour period ending at 600 am CST on 03/01/2017.
Risk of Severe Weather During Event  |  Storm Reports Through 600 am CST (03/01)
Storm Reports Through 600 am CST (03/02)  |  Help with Severe Weather Categories
In the pictures: There was an enhanced to moderate risk of severe weather from northern Arkansas to the Ohio Valley in the twenty four hour period ending at 600 am CST on 03/01/2017. The risk areas verified well, with numerous reports of tornadoes, wind damage and hail. Severe storms remains widespread into 03/02/2017 as the event shifted to the east,   The risk forecast and report graphics are courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

The target area included northern sections of the state into the mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys. A cold front approaching from the northwest was the trigger, and sparks started flying during the late afternoon and evening.

 

A WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed classic supercell (storm with rotating updrafts) structure near Higginson (White County) at 653 pm CST on 02/28/2017. Rain and hail were on the northeast side of the storm downstream from a hook echo to the southwest. Within the latter feature, a storm relative velocity image showed strong rotation, and tornadoes eventually resulted.
Reflectivity at 653 pm CST (02/28)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 653 pm CST (02/28)
More Information About Rotation
In the pictures: A WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed classic supercell (storm with rotating updrafts) structure near Higginson (White County) at 653 pm CST on 02/28/2017. Rain and hail were on the northeast side of the storm downstream from a hook echo to the southwest. Within the latter feature, a storm relative velocity image showed strong rotation, and tornadoes eventually resulted.
 

Forecast models were excellent in depicting only isolated storms in central Arkansas during the early evening hours. While there were only a few storms, they were huge. Two tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) were spawned near Higginson and Kensett (both in White County). According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, at least half a dozen people were injured and taken to area hospitals. Less than ten miles away, attendees at a state basketball tournament in Bald Knob (White County) took shelter with a Tornado Warning in effect.

 

Tornadoes Across Arkansas in 2017
This event featured eight (8) tornadoes, with two of these during the evening of February 28th and six more during the predawn hours of March 1st. So far, there have been eleven (11) tornadoes across Arkansas in 2017 (including three tornadoes toward the Louisiana border on January 21st).

 

Powerful updrafts (which carry moisture into storm clouds) suspended a large hail core (ice) aloft more than 30,000 feet in northeast Saline County at 526 pm CST on 02/28/2017. The storm eventually dropped hailstones as big as tennis balls near Monnie Springs (Pulaski County).
In the picture: Powerful updrafts (which carry moisture into storm clouds) suspended a large hail core (ice) aloft more than 30,000 feet in northeast Saline County at 526 pm CST on 02/28/2017. The storm eventually dropped hailstones as big as tennis balls near Monnie Springs (Pulaski County).
 

There was also very large hail. At Monnie Springs (Pulaski County), there were many stones from quarter to golf ball size, with a few stones as big as tennis balls. Hail was two inches in diameter a few miles north of Beebe (White County).

 

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.
 

There was a sizable lull in the late evening (several hours), but models were insistent on a line of storms sweeping into the region from Oklahoma. During the wee hours of 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

 

A trailer was flipped by powerful straight-line winds at a prison east of Newport (Jackson County) during the predawn hours of 03/01/2017.
In the picture: A trailer was flipped by powerful straight-line winds at a prison east of Newport (Jackson County) during the predawn hours of 03/01/2017.
 

Intense wind damage was found in several spots, including Hagarville (Johnson County), Fairfield Bay (Van Buren County), Drasco (Cleburne County), and a few miles east of Newport (Jackson County). At the latter location, two injuries resulted when a trailer flipped. There was an unconfirmed report of a 110 mph gust measured by a nearby resident.

 

Not Your Typical Severe Storms

As a line of storms cut a swath through northern Arkansas, wording in Severe Thunderstorm Warnings was ramped up to call attention to how dangerous conditions would become:

"Intense thunderstorm lines can produce brief tornadoes and widespread significant wind damage. Although a tornado is not immediately likely, it is best to move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. These storms may cause serious injury and significant property damage."

 

At least eight tornadoes (rated EF0 to EF2) were spawned across five counties in northern and central Arkansas from the evening of February 28th through the early morning hours of March 1st, 2017.
In the picture: At least eight tornadoes (rated EF0 to EF2) were spawned across five counties in northern and central Arkansas from the evening of February 28th through the early morning hours of March 1st, 2017.
 

Intense lines of storms like this one sometimes produce brief and weak tornadoes. During this event, at least six weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1) were counted. 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).

 

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on February 28 - March 1, 2017 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were numerous instances of wind damage and large hail in northern and central Arkansas on February 28th and March 1st, 2017. There were also at least eight tornadoes. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on February 28 - March 1, 2017 (in red).