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April, 2020 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
It was a very active April, with multiple rounds of severe weather. The most affected areas were from the southern Plains to the southeast states, but Arkansas got hit at times. Cool and stable air protected the state occasionally, and there was even a freeze and some light snow in the middle of the month. There was more rain than usual, and this kept rivers elevated in the south and east.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were a few record low temperatures tied or broken on April 14th, 15th, and 18th, and several record highs tied or broken on the 7th and 8th. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 34T (04/18)
Harrison 28 (04/18)
Jacksonville 33 (04/14), 29 (04/15)
Little Rock 33T (04/15)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 88 (04/08)
Fayetteville 83T (04/07), 91 (04/08)
Fort Smith 93 (04/08)
Harrison 92 (04/08)
Hot Springs 88 (04/08)
Mount Ida 90 (04/08)
Russellville 92 (04/08)
Texarkana 89 (04/08)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Very Active/Wetter Than Usual/Cool at Times with a Freeze
 
High temperatures on 04/08/2020. Readings were in the 80s to lower 90s.
In the picture: High temperatures on 04/08/2020. Readings were in the 80s to lower 90s.
 

The first week of April was tame across the region, with some rain at times but no severe weather. Things were about to change on the 8th as a cold front headed this way from Canada.

It was a very warm afternoon, with high temperatures in the 80s to lower 90s. It was 93 degrees at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), 92 degrees at Harrison (Boone County) and Russellville (Pope County), and 91 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County), Mena (Polk County), and Mountain Home (Baxter County). Normal highs are in the upper 60s to mid 70s.

 

A sounding (temperature and dewpoint profile with height) at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) showed warming aloft (an inversion) at 100 pm CDT on 04/08/2020. This tended to cap the atmosphere and kept thunderstorms from developing across most of Arkansas. In fact, much of the state had little in the way of clouds.
In the picture: A sounding (temperature and dewpoint profile with height) at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) showed warming aloft (an inversion) at 100 pm CDT on 04/08/2020. This tended to cap the atmosphere and kept thunderstorms from developing across most of Arkansas. In fact, much of the state had little in the way of clouds.
 

The heat and increasing moisture made the atmosphere extremely unstable. However, thunderstorms had some difficulty developing. Data acquired from a balloon launch by the National Weather Service at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County) revealed warming aloft (an inversion) at 100 pm CDT. Readings went from 68 degrees at 2000 feet to 75 degrees at 2500 feet. This tended to cap the lower levels of the atmosphere, and prevented storms from taking off. For most of the afternoon, there were few clouds.

 

A hail shaft was spotted well to the southeast of Calico Rock (Izard County) during the late afternoon of 04/08/2020. The photo is courtesy of Sam Riley.
In the picture: A hail shaft was spotted well to the southeast of Calico Rock (Izard County) during the late afternoon of 04/08/2020. The photo is courtesy of Sam Riley.
 

Capping was weakest in the northeast, and this is where isolated storms finally went haywire by 500 pm CDT. One storm in particular peaked the interest of radar operators and kept them busy for several hours. The storm unleashed baseball size hail at Strawberry (Lawrence County), and golf balls at Horseshoe Bend (Izard County), Lynn (Lawrence County), and Ravenden (Lawrence County).

 

Homes were damaged or destroyed at Harrisburg (Poinsett County), and a mobile home was removed from its cinder block foundation about four miles east-northeast of Weiner (Poinsett County). Two people were injured at the latter location. A tornado (rated EF2) was responsible for the destruction on 04/08/2020. The photos are courtesy of John Robinson.
House Destroyed at Harrisburg (Poinsett County)
Heavily Damaged Home at Harrisburg (Poinsett County)
Mobile Home Removed From Cinder Blocks Near Weiner (Poinsett County)
In the pictures: Homes were damaged or destroyed at Harrisburg (Poinsett County), and a mobile home was removed from its cinder block foundation about four miles east-northeast of Weiner (Poinsett County). Two people were injured at the latter location. A tornado (rated EF2) was responsible for the destruction on 04/08/2020. The photos are courtesy of John Robinson.
 

Farther south and east, rotation picked up in the storm and tornadoes were spawned. Five to six miles southwest of Cash (Craighead County), a brief tornado (rated EF0) damaged a farm shed around 750 pm CDT. Fifteen minutes later, another tornado (rated EF2) formed roughly nine miles northwest of Harrisburg (Poinsett County). The tornado removed a mobile home from its cinder block foundation, and tossed it into a field. Two people were injured. Eventually (at 825 pm CDT), the tornado made it into the north side of town and damaged or destroyed at least thirty homes.

 

Severe weather reports in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 04/13/2020. There were more than 1,000 instances of wind damage and at least 130 tornadoes. 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 04/13/2020. There were more than 1,000 instances of wind damage and at least 130 tornadoes. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

The biggest event of month happened on the 12th (Easter) and 13th. There were more than 1,000 reports of wind damage and at least 130 tornadoes from Texas to the Carolinas. Sadly, there were three dozen casualties.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed two confirmed tornadoes just southeast of Prentice, MS and northeast of Soso, MS shortly before 500 pm CDT on 04/12/2020. The northernmost twister (rated EF4/190 mph winds) had a state record width of 3960 yards (2.25 miles) and was the third widest in recorded history nationally.
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed two confirmed tornadoes just southeast of Prentice, MS and northeast of Soso, MS shortly before 500 pm CDT on 04/12/2020. The northernmost twister (rated EF4/190 mph winds) had a state record width of 3960 yards (2.25 miles) and was the third widest in recorded history nationally.
 

Violent and sometimes deadly tornadoes (rated EF3 or higher) roared across Louisiana and Mississippi during the afternoon of the 12th, and in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee after dark and early on the 13th.

 

In the pictures: A tornado (rated at least EF3) caused major damage and killed three people as it tracked just east of Chattanooga, TN late on 04/12/2020. The photos are courtesy of the Hamilton County, TN Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security via Twitter.
 

Just before noon CDT on the 12th, at least 200 to 300 homes were damaged by a tornado in Monroe, LA. In the hours to follow. there was a 100 mile swath of destruction and at least twelve fatalities from Walthall County, MS to Clarke County, MS (south and east of Jackson, MS), including the towns of Bassfield, MS and Soso, MS. Well after dark, a tornado ripped through the east side of Chattanooga, TN and tore up 100 to 200 structures. Three people lost their lives. Seven people were killed when a tornado hit two mobile home parks in Murray County, GA (80 to 90 miles north of Atlanta, GA). Another fatality was reported at Cartersville, GA due to a tree on a home. Near Thomaston, GA, a house was carried from its foundation (fully intact) into the middle of State Highway 74. Nobody was there at the time. Seven more deaths were attributed to tornadoes in Hampton and Orangeburg Counties, SC (70 miles west and northwest of Charleston, SC respectively). A security guard did not make it through a tornado that dismantled an auto manufacturing plant at Seneca, SC.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed severe thunderstorms surging from western into central Arkansas, with more severe weather in portions of Alabama and Mississippi at 758 pm CDT on 04/12/2020.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed severe thunderstorms surging from western into central Arkansas, with more severe weather in portions of Alabama and Mississippi at 758 pm CDT on 04/12/2020.
 

Here at home, we had to deal with a line of nasty thunderstorms. The line had bowing segments, indicating that powerful winds were driving the storms forward and causing them to bulge outward. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were first issued between 530 pm and 600 pm CDT, and continued for five hours until the storms moved east of the Mississippi River. The storms produced damaging wind gusts from 60 to more than 80 mph, and knocked out power to at least 150,000 utility customers.

 

 

View From the Ground
In the pictures: A very large tree landed on a home at White Hall (Jefferson County), killing a resident. Behind the home, a large section of trees was mowed down. The photos are courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter (from aloft) and John Robinson (from the ground).
 

There were numerous reports of trees and power lines downed, with trees blocking roads in some cases. Trees fell on residences, resulting in a death at White Hall (Jefferson County) and an injury at Glen Rose (Hot Spring County). Outbuildings and sheds were damaged or destroyed. A roof was blown off of a poultry farm on Highway 154 north of Danville (Yell County). A 68 mph gust was measured at Petit Jean State Park (Conway County).

 

So Many Power Outages/Federal Disaster Declaration

The roughly 150,000 power outages counted in Arkansas was more than any other state affected by the severe weather outbreak of April 12th and 13th. The majority of the outages were south of Interstate 40. Twelve (12) counties across the south were eventually declared federal disaster areas. This included Arkansas, Bradley, Cleveland, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Monroe, Ouachita, and Phillips Counties. According to the Entergy Arkansas President and CEO (via Twitter): "This was a significant storm event. Early assessments for some areas reveal damage comparable to the back-to-back ice storms in December of 2000." These colossal ice episodes were separated by a couple of weeks, and are widely regarded as the most destructive and costliest natural disasters known in the state.

 

More than three inches of rain dumped from central and southern Arkansas to the Tennessee Valley in the thirty six hour period ending at 1100 pm CDT on 04/12/2020.
In the picture: More than three inches of rain dumped from central and southern Arkansas to the Tennessee Valley in the thirty six hour period ending at 1100 pm CDT on 04/12/2020.
 

Much of Arkansas received one to more than three inches of rain, with the heaviest amounts over central and southern sections of the state. Monticello (Drew County) had an estimated 3.73 inches of precipitation on the 12th, breaking a daily record that stood since 1877.

This was one of the more significant downpours of the month, and contributed to largely above average rainfall totals. Surpluses of liquid in April were more than an inch at El Dorado (Union County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County).

 

Precipitation in April, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 4.00 4.57 -0.57 88%
Harrison (NC AR) 4.87 4.32 +0.55 113%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 5.82 5.02 +0.80 116%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 6.46 4.30 +2.16 150%
Little Rock (C AR) 6.41 5.14 +1.27 125%
West Memphis (EC AR) 4.31 5.38 -1.07 80%
Texarkana (SW AR) 4.83 3.94 +0.89 123%
El Dorado (SC AR) 5.42 4.09 +1.33 133%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 6.40 4.93 +1.47 130%

 

There was a freeze on 04/15/2020, especially in parts of northern and central Arkansas.
In the picture: There was a freeze on 04/15/2020, especially in parts of northern and central Arkansas.
 

It turned much colder after the storms were gone. On the morning of the 15th, there were areas of frost, and a freeze in portions of northern and central Arkansas. It was 26 degrees at Marshall (Searcy County), 27 degrees at Flippin (Marion County) and Jessieville (Garland County), 28 degrees at Clinton (Van Buren County), Evening Shade (Sharp County), and Mena (Polk County), and 29 degrees at Calico Rock (Izard County), Fayetteville (Washington County), Lead Hill (Boone County), Marche (Pulaski County), Silver Hill (Searcy County), and Waldron (Scott County).

 

In the picture: There was a half inch of snow in Harrison (Boone County) early on 04/14/2020, which was tied for the third latest measurable snow on record.
 

In addition to the cold, there was a little light snow in the northwest on the 14th, including a dusting of flakes at Harrison (Boone County). It was the third latest (tied with the same day in 1980) measurable snow at the site since records began in 1891.

 

 

Severe weather was likely south of a front along the Gulf Coast on 04/19/2020. This is where the atmosphere was the most warm and unstable (temperatures in the 70s/80s).
In the picture: Severe weather was likely south of a front along the Gulf Coast on 04/19/2020. This is where the atmosphere was the most warm and unstable (temperatures in the 70s/80s).
 

Warm air tried to return on the 19th, but failed. It was cloudy and rainy, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Outside of isolated hailstorms in western Arkansas, severe storms stayed away from us along the Gulf Coast. 

 

Link of Interest
Video of Hail in Johnson County (courtesy of Becky Jensen via Twitter)

 

In the video: There were scenes of destruction in southern Mississippi following a monster tornado (rated EF4) during the evening of 04/19/2020. The video is courtesy of Charles Peek via Twitter.
 

In southern Mississippi, one tornado (rated EF4) was particularly destructive during the evening of the 19th from Walthall County, MS to Perry County, MS. The tornado lasted 54 miles, and was responsible for one fatality.

 

The sounding (temperature and dewpoint profile with height) at Springfield, MO showed a setup for hail on 04/20/2020. In the lower levels of the atmosphere, it was warm/moist enough to get air parcels to rise to make clouds/storms. These saturated parcels were warmer than the sounding temperature, leading to ascent. The parcels reached the freezing level at only 8,000 feet (lower than usual), making it easy to create ice/hail farther aloft. Also, it was very dry above 10,000 feet, with any evaporation leading to cooling and more ice.
In the picture: The sounding (temperature and dewpoint profile with height) at Springfield, MO showed a setup for hail on 04/20/2020. In the lower levels of the atmosphere, it was warm/moist enough to get air parcels to rise to make clouds/storms. These saturated parcels were warmer than the sounding temperature, leading to ascent. The parcels reached the freezing level at only 8,000 feet (lower than usual), making it easy to create ice/hail farther aloft. Also, it was very dry above 10,000 feet, with any evaporation leading to cooling and more ice.
 

On the 20th, there was more hail locally. A very low freezing level (only 8,000 feet) and lots of dry air overhead (leading to evaporation/cooling) made it very easy for ice to form. During the late afternoon, a storm dumped a tremendous amount of mostly small hail at Mammoth Spring (Fulton County). Some stones were as large as a quarter. Roads were blanketed with hail as if it had snowed. Temperatures quickly dropped from the lower 70s into the upper 40s.

 

In the video: Roads were covered with hail in Mammoth Spring (Fulton County) when a severe storm rolled through town around 500 pm CDT on 04/20/2020. The video is courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT).
 

As the storm tracked to the southeast, it brought up to half dollar size hail and a 62 mph wind gust to College City (Lawrence County). A 54 mph wind gust was measured at Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County). Hail (up to quarter size) also accumulated on roads at Rogers (Benton County).

 

Watches and warnings for tornadoes and flash flooding were posted to the south and west of Arkansas at 530 pm CDT on 04/22/2020.
In the picture: Watches and warnings for tornadoes and flash flooding were posted to the south and west of Arkansas at 530 pm CDT on 04/22/2020.
 

The 22nd was a repeat of the 19th. We lucked out as a gentle rain and cool conditions kept severe weather to a minimum. Not too far away, deadly tornadoes were ongoing in southern Oklahoma and eastern Texas between 400 pm and 600 pm CDT. At Onalaska, TX, three people were killed and 150 to 200 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed by a tornado (rated EF3/140 mph winds).

 

Link of Interest
How Tornadoes are Rated

 

In the video: A tornado was spawned in Madill, OK, and ripped through town during the late afternoon of 04/22/2020. The video is courtesy of Pecos Hank via Twitter.
 

In Madill, OK, a camera caught a tornado (rated EF2) spinning up quickly and cutting a swath through several industrial buildings on the south side of town. There were two fatalities. At the time, this storm was covered by one of four Tornado Warnings posted from Roff, OK to the Red River (Oklahoma/Texas state line), a distance of only 50 miles.

 

In the video: A simulated radar loop showed scattered/discreet storms (with hail and isolated tornadoes) developing in eastern Oklahoma, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana during the afternoon and early evening of 04/24/2020. From there, larger clusters of storms (with strong to damaging winds) raced from western into central Arkansas after dark.
 

It was warmer on the 24th (temperatures in the 70s), and our luck began to run out. A large hail/isolated tornado episode in Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana transitioned into strong to damaging winds (and trees down) in our neck of the woods. Along with the wind, there was a tornado (rated EF1) near Cass (Franklin County). 

 

While the most violent storms were south/west of Arkansas on 04/24/2020, there were still reports of damaging winds and hail from western into central sections of the state.
In the picture: While the most violent storms were south/west of Arkansas on 04/24/2020, there were still reports of damaging winds and hail from western into central sections of the state.
 

Baseball size pelted areas near Paris, TX, with baseball to softball size stones a few miles east of Benton, LA. In western into central Arkansas, trees were toppled at Aplin (Perry County), Cecil (Franklin County), Cabot (Lonoke County), Dyer (Crawford County), Mountainburg (Crawford County), Pea Ridge (Benton County), Roland (Pulaski County), Rover (Yell County), Ward (Lonoke County), and Woodlawn (Lonoke County). At Vilonia (Faulkner County), part of the metal roof on a church was torn off. A 65 mph gust was measured at the Little Rock Air Force Base (Pulaski County).

 

Gusty northwest winds were noted across Arkansas on 04/25/2020. Peak gusts ranged from 35 to 45 mph at many locations. 
In the picture: Gusty northwest winds were noted across Arkansas on 04/25/2020. Peak gusts ranged from 35 to 45 mph at many locations.
 

The chaos ended on the 25th after a storm system dragged a cold front through the state and it dried out. As the system intensified in the Ohio Valley, winds increased from the northwest. Gusts from 35 to 45 mph were common. At Newport (Jackson County), a 46 mph gust was observed, with a 45 mph gust at Blytheville (Mississippi County), a 44 mph gust at Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), and a 43 mph gust at Corning (Clay County).

 

It was hot to the southwest of Arkansas around 400 pm CDT on 04/28/2020. Temperatures were in the 90s to around 102 degrees in west Texas. Meanwhile, it was mild locally, with readings in the 70s to around 80 degrees. 
In the picture: It was hot to the southwest of Arkansas around 400 pm CDT on 04/28/2020. Temperatures were in the 90s to around 102 degrees in west Texas. Meanwhile, it was mild locally, with readings in the 70s to around 80 degrees.
 

During the final days of April, it turned into summer in west Texas. On the 28th, it was 105 degrees in San Angelo, TX, with 90s common in the Lone Star State west of Dallas, TX. Meanwhile, readings were a little more seasonal in Arkansas, with thermometers showing 70s to around 80 degrees. To the north, a powerful storm system was headed this way from Iowa, and eventually sparked a line of thunderstorms.

Impacts from the storms were greatest between the hot air to the west and the not-so-hot conditions farther east. A lot of times, low level moisture (from the Gulf of Mexico) finds its way between these air masses, and is the road to follow ("sweet spot") for severe storms.

 

In the video: The satellite loop showed thunderstorms developing rapidly to the northwest of Arkansas, and then plowing through the state during the late afternoon and evening of 04/28/2020 and the predawn hours the next morning. The video is courtesy of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere/Colorado State University via Twitter.
 

There were quite a few instances of golf ball to baseball size stones in central/eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas, and almost softballs (3.75 inches in diameter) near Chickasha, OK. Two tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) were spawned north and east of Hochatown, OK. One of the tornadoes lasted twenty miles into southwest Arkansas, and dissipated six miles northwest of Lockesburg (Sevier County).

Locally, there was a lot of wind. Trees were pushed over (on homes and cars in a few cases) at numerous locations. At least 30,000 power outages occurred. A 67 mph wind gust was measured at Fargo (Monroe County). Other gusts (estimated or measured) included 65 mph at Cabot (Lonoke County), 60 mph at Bono (Craighead County), Paris (Logan County), and Stamps (Lafayette County), 59 mph at Batesville (Independence County), 55 mph at Conway (Faulkner County) and Clinton (Van Buren County), 53 mph at the Stuttgart Airport in Fairmount (Prairie County), 52 mph at the Little Rock Air Force Base (Pulaski County) and Mena (Polk County), 51 mph at Carlisle (Lonoke County), and 50 mph at Little Rock National Airport (Pulaski County).

In addition to the wind, ping pong ball size hail was reported at Center Hill (White County) and Center Point (Howard County), with quarters at De Queen (Sevier County).

 

In the picture: In 2020 (through April), severe weather warnings were most numerous from the southern Plains to the southeast United States. The graphic is courtesy of the Iowa Environmental Mesonet (IEM) through the National Weather Service in Wichita, KS via Twitter.
 

Interestingly, while activity picked up in the southern Plains to end April (the southeast states were hammered earlier in the month), there was not enough northward expansion for any tornadoes in Kansas. It was just as quiet from January to March of 2020, with a goose egg through April for only the fourth time on record (1962, 1967, 1980, and 2018). Go back two years, and Oklahoma started 2018 with a tornado drought through the first four months. That had never happened before in the state.

 

Tributaries in southern and eastern Arkansas remained elevated on 04/29/2020. This included the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers. 
In the table: Tributaries in southern and eastern Arkansas remained elevated on 04/29/2020. This included the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers.
 

Rain in April came mostly in small batches, and not huge deluges. So, there tended not to be any big surges along tributaries that were already running high (with minor flooding). This included the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers.

 

Links of Interest
April 8, 2020 (hot/severe storms)
April 12-15, 2020 (severe outbreak/heavy rain/turning colder)
April 19-20, 2020 (isolated hailstorms)
April 22-25, 2020 (severe storms/becoming windy)
April 28-29, 2020 (severe storms)

 

Additional April Details
 
For more details about April, 2020...go to the "Temperatures and Precipitation" section below.

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
Temperatures were below average in April. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. April, 2020 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

April, 2020 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was mostly above average, especially in central and southern Arkansas. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

To right, a look at precipitation across the state. April, 2020 Precipitation in Arkansas

 

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