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April, 2021 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
After an active start to April, it cooled off with a late freeze. There was even a little snow in northern Arkansas on the 20th. Toward the end of the month, there was a lot of rain in the north and west, with flash flooding and high rivers common.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were a couple of record high temperatures tied or broken on April 12th, and numerous record lows mainly on the 21st/22nd. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 27 (04/02), 29 (04/21), 34 (04/22)
El Dorado 34 (04/21)
Fayetteville 25 (04/21), 28 (04/22)
Fort Smith 31 (04/21)
Harrison 30 (04/21)
Hot Springs 32 (04/21)
Jacksonville 30 (04/01), 27 (04/02), 33 (04/21), 33(04/22)
Little Rock 35 (04/21), 38T (04/22)
Mount Ida 29 (04/21)
North Little Rock 33 (04/02), 32 (04/21)
Pine Bluff 36 (04/21)
Russellville 29 (04/21), 33T (04/22)
Stuttgart 37 (04/02), 35 (04/21), 41T (04/22)
Texarkana 35 (04/21)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Hot Springs 85T (04/12)
North Little Rock 84 (04/12)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Active Early/Cooler Than Usual/A Late Freeze/Flooding Rain Late
 
A cold front (System #1) pushed into Arkansas from the west on 04/07/2021, and triggered a round of severe weather. The front stalled along the Gulf Coast, and interacted with another incoming cold front (System #2) to spark more severe storms on 04/09/2021.
Surface Map at 700 am CDT (04/07)  |  Surface Map at 700 am CDT (04/08)
Surface Map at 700 am CDT (04/09)  |  Surface Map at 700 am CDT (04/10)
Loop
In the pictures: A cold front (System #1) pushed into Arkansas from the west on 04/07/2021, and triggered a round of severe weather. The front stalled along the Gulf Coast, and interacted with another incoming cold front (System #2) to spark more severe storms on 04/09/2021.
 

The weather is supposed to get rough in April. True to form, there was a double whammy of severe weather from the 7th through 9th. Two storm systems and associated cold fronts arrived from the Plains, and sparked severe storms that produced damaging winds, large hail, and isolated tornadoes.

Mainly hail occurred with front number one on the 7th. There was ping pong ball size hail at Quitman (Cleburne County), and hail to the size of quarters at North Little Rock (Pulaski County). At Clinton (Van Buren County), winds were strong enough (60 to 65 mph gusts) to blow over an empty semi truck along Highway 65. Minor structural damage was also noted. A roof was removed from a chicken house just east of Moreland (Pope County).

In northern Louisiana, there were a half dozen or so weak (rated EF0/EF1) tornadoes. One of the  tornadoes made it into far southeast Arkansas, and affected areas south of Eudora (Chicot County) before dissipating. One more brief weak (rated EF0) tornado went from seven miles southwest of Eudora (Chicot County) to five miles west-southwest of town (a three mile track). Other than toppling trees, the tornado bent a flag pole at a fire station.

The front eventually stalled along the Gulf Coast, and drier air spread into the state from the north. The front headed back this way on the 9th, and moisture returned. Enter front number two from the west, and it was active again. This time it was worse.

 

In the video: The satellite showed thunderstorms (Round #1) developing in Arkansas during the afternoon of 04/09/2021. The storms headed just to the southeast of the state by evening, with more storms (Round #2) arriving from Oklahoma during the late evening. Storms eventually merged along the Gulf Coast early the next morning.
 

Toward the Missouri border in the afternoon, a storm unloaded baseball size hail just south of Mountain Home (Baxter County). Near Gassville (Baxter County), trees and power lines were downed, and a carport was overturned. In southern Arkansas, a wicked line of storms leveled trees near Rosston (Nevada County), with trees on homes and vehicles at Camden and East Camden (both in Ouachita County). The line of storms likely produced 60 to more than 80 mph winds.

Elsewhere, more trees fell at Woodberry (Calhoun County), Dumas (Desha County), McGehee (Desha County), and Parkdale (Ashley County). The roof of a school was torn up at Hermitage (Bradley County). Ping ping ball size hail pelted Paragould (Greene County), with half dollars at Lafe (Greene County), and quarters at Brookland (Craighead County), Rye (Cleveland County), Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), and Trumann (Poinsett County).

In the evening, more storms visited from Oklahoma and packed a wallop. A 59 mph wind gust was measured at Fayetteville (Washington County) shortly before 1000 pm CDT. Between 1100 and 1130 pm CDT, 60 to 65 mph gusts were estimated from De Queen to Ben Lomond (both in Sevier County). Trees tumbled from Foreman to Ashdown (both in Little River County). There was a tree on a home at Lewisville (Lafayette County), and trees blocked Highway 29 north of town and along Highway 53 close to Buckner (Lafayette County). For the second time in twelve hours, trees came down at Camden (Ouachita County). The school at Hermitage (Bradley County) mentioned in the previous paragraph had more roof damage. A weak (rated EF1) tornado cut a two to three mile swath through locations five to six miles southwest of Ashdown (Little River County). Near Toltec (Lonoke County), lightning struck a house, and fire consumed the structure. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

 

Severe weather reports in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 04/11/2021. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: Severe weather reports in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 04/11/2021. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

After the storms exited Arkansas, it got really nasty to the south during the morning of the 10th. At Bolden, LA, a tornado (rated EF3) damaged or destroyed homes and mobile homes, resulting in a fatality and at least seven injuries. Tennis ball to baseball size hail was unleashed at Josephine, AL and Orange Beach, AL. In the Florida panhandle, gusts from 50 to 70 mph were common, including a recorded 85 mph wind gust around Fort Walton Beach, FL. On the west side of Panama City Beach, FL, videos showed a waterspout moving inland. This tornado (rated EF2) heavily damaged a convenience store and a house.

Here at home, four day rainfall through 700 am CDT on the 11th was generally between one and three inches across the southern and eastern counties. Amounts from a quarter to three quarters of an inch and locally over an inch occurred farther northwest.

Widespread two to four inch totals caused flash flooding in Mississippi. Roads were under water in Tupelo, MS, and Highway 178 was temporarily impassible northwest of town. A creek overflowed in Jackson, MS, and this flooded roads and stalled vehicles and sent water into nearby homes.

 

In the video: The satellite showed the La Soufrière volcano erupting on the Carribean island of Saint Vincent during the morning of 04/11/2021. The last eruption of La Soufrière was in 1979.
 

In the Caribbean, La Soufrière volcano erupted on the 9th on the island of Saint Vincent. In the days to follow, explosions were so intense they rivaled what happened in 1902 when 1,600 people were killed (according to one expert). Residents were urged to evacuate. The last time the volcano erupted was 1979.

 

The surface map at 400 pm CDT on 04/20/2021 showed a cold front in southern Arkansas, with mild air (temperatures in the 70s to lower 80s) to the south of the front, and much colder air (temperatures near freezing in some cases) farther north. Light snow was falling in portions of the Ozark Mountains.
In the picture: The surface map at 400 pm CDT on 04/20/2021 showed a cold front in southern Arkansas, with mild air (temperatures in the 70s to lower 80s) to the south of the front, and much colder air (temperatures near freezing in some cases) farther north. Light snow was falling in portions of the Ozark Mountains.
 

Through the 19th, there were only three tornadoes for in the month in Arkansas. That was not going to change on the 20th, with better chances of snow than thunderstorms and much colder air on the way. A cold front from Canada surged into the region during the morning, and was over the southern counties by the late afternoon. Ahead of the front at 400 pm CDT, it was 77 degrees at El Dorado (Union County) with plenty of sunshine. It was a different world behind the front, with 33 degrees and snow at Fayetteville (Washington County). The transition from mild to cold resulted in windy conditions. Winds shifted to the northwest at 10 to 20 mph, with maximum gusts between 30 and 40 mph in places. 

 

In the video: There was light snow along several highways (via traffic cameras) in northwest Arkansas on 04/20/2021. The video is courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
 

One to two inches of snow piled up near Bella Vista and Lowell (both in Benton County), and also at Elm Springs (Washington County). There was close to an inch of snow at Omaha (Boone County). Once snow stopped falling, any accumulations disappeared quickly due to a warm ground.

There was even more snow to the north of the state. Three to more than six inch accumulations were reported in Kansas along the Interstate 70 corridor from east of Colby, KS all the way to Kansas City, KS. It was a similar story from northern and central Indiana into Ohio. Two to three inches of flakes were noted at Springfield, MO.

 

Subfreezing temperatures were widespread across northern and western Arkansas at 600 am CDT on 04/21/2021.
In the picture: Subfreezing temperatures were widespread across northern and western Arkansas at 600 am CDT on 04/21/2021.
 

Temperatures by the morning of the 21st were at or below freezing in much of northern and western Arkansas. At 600 am CDT, the thermometer showed 26 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Flippin (Marion County), 27 degrees at Clinton (Van Buren County) and Siloam Springs (Benton County). It was 28 degrees at Highfill and Rogers (both in Benton County), and 29 degrees at Batesville (Independence County), Mountain Home (Baxter County), Russellville (Pope County), and Searcy (White County).

 

Latest freeze records were tied or broken at more than a half dozen sites in Arkansas on 04/21/2021.
In the picture: Latest freeze records were tied or broken at more than a half dozen sites in Arkansas on 04/21/2021.
 

It was the latest freeze on record at several sites, including Alum Fork (Saline County), Batesville (Independence County), Beedeville (Jackson County), Conway (Faulkner County), Hot Springs (Garland County), and the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County). Data goes back to 1937 at a couple of these locations, and all the way to 1884 at Conway (Faulkner County)!

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed rain and embedded thunderstorms becoming widespread over Arkansas during the late afternoon and evening of 04/23/2021. During the late night hours and early the next morning, rain was followed by a line of strong to severe thunderstorms that swept through southern sections of the state.
Radar at 300 pm CDT (04/23)  |  Radar at 500 pm CDT (04/23)
Radar at 700 pm CDT (04/23)  |  Radar at 900 pm CDT (04/23)
Radar at 1100 pm CDT (04/23)  |  Radar at 100 am CDT (04/24)
Radar at 300 am CDT (04/24)  |  Radar at 500 am CDT (04/24)
Loop
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed rain and embedded thunderstorms becoming widespread over Arkansas during the late afternoon and evening of 04/23/2021. During the late night hours and early the next morning, rain was followed by a line of strong to severe thunderstorms that swept through southern sections of the state.
 

By the last week of April, it was drier and cooler than usual, and there was not much severe weather. While there was an outside chance of severe thunderstorms on the 23rd, areas of heavy rain were likely. Rain overspread the area late in the afternoon, and downpours continued into the overnight hours. Precipitation was heaviest (two to more than three inches) in the southern half of Arkansas.

In the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 24th, Antoine (Pike County) had 3.21 inches, with 3.09 inches at Murfreesboro (Pike County), 3.02 inches at Malvern (Hot Spring County), 2.88 inches at DeGray Lake State Park (Clark/Hot Spring Counties), 2.62 inches at Cane Creek State Park (Lincoln County), 2.42 inches at Keo (Lonoke County), 2.28 inches at Hot Springs (Garland County), and 2.20 inches at Camden (Ouachita County).

As rain left early on the 24th, a line of strong to severe thunderstorms followed and tracked through areas south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Damaging winds downed trees southwest of Horatio (Little River County), Dierks (Howard County), East Camden (Ouachita County), and south of Johnsville (Bradley County).

Outside the state, at least five tornadoes were counted in the Texas panhandle on the 23rd, with the strongest of these (rated EF2) north and west of Lockett, TX. Baseball to softball size hail was reported. On the 24th, there was a lot of wind damage (numerous trees toppled and some structural damage) from southeast Louisiana to southern Georgia and northern Florida. There were several weak tornadoes, up to baseball size hail, and three to over six inches of rain.

 

A powerful storm system ("L") aloft (at 500 millibars/roughly 18,000 feet) slowly approached Arkansas from the southwest United States in late April, 2021. Ahead of the system, a deep southerly flow developed, and this brought abundant moisture into the region from the Gulf of Mexico.
500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (04/26)  |  500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (04/27)
500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (04/28)  |  500 mb Map at 700 am CDT (04/29)
Loop
In the pictures: A powerful storm system ("L") aloft (at 500 millibars/roughly 18,000 feet) slowly approached Arkansas from the southwest United States in late April, 2021. Ahead of the system, a deep southerly flow developed, and this brought abundant moisture into the region from the Gulf of Mexico.
 

The floodgates opened to end April. A large storm system loomed to the southwest, with a lot of moisture pulled northward ahead of the system over the southern Plains. Given so much moisture, heavy rain and flash flooding were concerns.

 

Precipitable water (PWAT), or water vapor contained in a vertical column of the atmosphere, was close to double the late April normal of 0.8 to 1.0 inch according to this forecast model. This made thunderstorms very efficient rain producers. The graphic is courtesy of the College of DuPage.
In the picture: Precipitable water (PWAT), or water vapor contained in a vertical column of the atmosphere, was close to double the late April normal of 0.8 to 1.0 inch according to this forecast model. This made thunderstorms very efficient rain producers. The graphic is courtesy of the College of DuPage.
 

There was at least double the normal moisture in northern and western Arkansas, and this is where the heaviest rain was expected. Some severe weather was possible as well.

 

 

In the video: Showers and thunderstorms moved over the same areas (or "trained") in northwest Arkansas for several hours during the morning of 04/28/2021. This made flash flooding likely. The information is courtesy of the National Weather Service in Tulsa, OK via Twitter.
 

Thunderstorms arrived in the far northwest early on the 28th. There was torrential rain in Benton, Carroll, Crawford, and Washington Counties. At least six inches of precipitation dumped in places, and this happened in just a few hours.

Roads were inundated with water at Bentonville (Washington County), with a school bus stranded along the shoulder of a flooded road. About four miles southeast of Siloam Springs (Benton County), rapid rises along the Illinois River spilled onto Highway 16, and made the thoroughfare impassible. Highway 264 was closed between Cave Springs and Lowell (both in Benton County) due to high water and the pavement was washed out. Highways 127 at Garfield (Benton County) and 282 near Mountainburg (Crawford County) were shut down as well. At Oak Grove (Carroll County), thunderstorm winds damaged a barn. Northeast of Rogers (Benton County), a tree was pushed onto a home.

There was also too much rain in southwest Missouri. About six miles south of Cassville, MO, a campground was vacated at the Roaring River State Park as rushing water made the popular tourist attraction unsafe.

Temperatures stayed in the 60s across the northern counties through the afternoon of the 28th as precipitation in the northwest headed east toward the Mississippi River. One to two inches of rain was measured at Harrison (Boone County) and Mountain Home (Baxter County). Farther south, there was little to no rain in central and southern Arkansas, with thermometers showing 70s and 80s. Readings peaked in the mid 80s at Camden (Ouachita County), El Dorado (Union County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Texarkana (Miller County).

 

A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts and exhibiting features such as a hook echo and strong rotation) was near Paris (Logan County) at 1012 pm CDT on 04/28/2021. Looking aloft, there was a large hail core (inset top left) downstream from the center of the storm toward Driggs (Logan County). This indicated the storm was tilting with height due to strong wind shear.
Reflectivity at 1012 pm CDT (04/28)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 1012 pm CDT (04/28)
In the pictures: A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts and exhibiting features such as a hook echo and strong rotation) was near Paris (Logan County) at 1012 pm CDT on 04/28/2021. Looking aloft, there was a large hail core (inset top left) downstream from the center of the storm toward Driggs (Logan County). This indicated the storm was tilting with height due to strong wind shear.
 

More storms moved into the state after dark, and continued into the early morning hours of the 29th. Much of northern, western, and central Arkansas were affected this time around.

A severe storm produced golf ball size hail at Denning (Franklin County) just before 745 pm CDT. Another huge storm hit the Fort Smith (Sebastian County) area by 930 pm CDT with quarter size hail at Bonanza (Sebastian County). There was a possible brief tornado (witnessed by a trained storm spotter) just north of Greenwood (Sebastian County). The storm made its way toward Paris (Logan County) just after 1000 pm CDT, and looked ominous on radar (a bona fide supercell with rotating updrafts). While a Tornado Warning was issued by the National Weather Service, it appears no tornadoes were spawned (no damage was reported).

 

In the picture: An almost surreal hailstone measuring 6.4 inches in diameter (an apparent Texas state record) was collected at Hondo, TX on 04/28/2021. The information is courtesy of the National Weather Service in Austin/San Antonio, TX.
 

It was a night to remember at Norman, OK, on the north side of Fort Worth, TX, and west of San Antonio, TX. There was an incredible amount of hail, and baseball to larger than grapefruit size stones were common. Numerous vehicles were dented, windows were busted out in cars, homes, and businesses, roof shingles were beat up, and holes were punched in siding on buildings. Incredibly, the largest stones managed to crash through the ceilings of some houses and land in the living space.

 

Forty eight hour rainfall through 700 pm CDT on 04/29/2021.
In the picture: Forty eight hour rainfall through 700 pm CDT on 04/29/2021.
 

In Arkansas, once the tornado threat diminished, a deluge commenced in the north and west. By the time the event was over, much of the north and west had two to more than five inches of rain in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 pm CDT on the 29th.

Monthly rainfall was more than two inches above normal in parts of the north/west, including Fayetteville (Washington County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). It was drier than usual in parts of the south/east, with one to two inch rainfall deficits at Little Rock (Pulaski County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in April, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 6.63 4.57 +2.06 145%
Harrison (NC AR) 5.82 4.32 +1.50 135%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.61 5.02 -0.41 92%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 7.29 4.30 +2.99 170%
Little Rock (C AR) 4.02 5.14 -1.12 78%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.55 5.38 -1.83 66%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.52 3.94 -0.42 89%
El Dorado (SC AR) 5.01 4.09 +0.92 122%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.88 4.93 -0.05 99%

 

Numerous low water crossings were flooded in Marion County. Southwest of Clinton (Van Buren County), water covered sections of Highway 95. It was the same story along Highway 359 east of Lamar (Johnson County) at Piney Creek, with one person rescued. Another rescue was reported northeast of Hunt (Johnson County) on Highway 164 at Horsehead Creek. At Clarksville (Johnson County), officials closed Highway 64 due to flooding.

 

There were rapid rises along the Buffalo and Spring Rivers on April 28-29, 2021, with minor to moderate flooding occurring at Hardy (Sharp County), Imboden (Lawrence County), and St. Joe (Searcy County).
Spring River at Hardy (Sharp County) Hydrograph
Spring River at Imboden (Lawrence County) Hydrograph
Buffalo River at St. Joe (Searcy County) Hydrograph
In the pictures: There were rapid rises along the Buffalo and Spring Rivers on April 28-29, 2021, with minor to moderate flooding occurring at Hardy (Sharp County), Imboden (Lawrence County), and St. Joe (Searcy County).
 

The Buffalo and Spring Rivers shot up in a hurry. At Hardy (Sharp County), the Spring River went five to six feet above flood stage and sent a torrent of water into a campground. A recreational vehicle was swept away.  Local law enforcement monitoring the situation evacuated the area and nearby neighborhoods.

 

In the pictures: The Spring River was just below 22.0 feet at Ravenden (Lawrence County) during the early afternoon of 04/29/2021. As water levels climbed, nearby roads flooded. The photos are courtesy of Rod Lawrence via Twitter.
 

The Spring River was also a big problem at Ravenden (Lawrence County), with photos and video showing water everywhere and people at a local campground trying to get out.

There was major flooding and Top 5 highest crests on the Illinois River at Chewey, OK, and on Lee Creek near Van Buren (Crawford County).

 

There was minor to moderate flooding along several rivers in Arkansas to end April. This included the Arkansas, Black, Cache, Ouachita, and White Rivers.
In the picture: There was minor to moderate flooding along several rivers in Arkansas to end April. This included the Arkansas, Black, Cache, Ouachita, and White Rivers.
 

Minor to moderate flooding was noted or expected into early May along several tributaries in Arkansas, including the Arkansas, Black, Cache, Fourche LaFave, Ouachita, and White Rivers.

 

Links of Interest
April 7-10, 2021 (severe storms)
April 20-21, 2021 (turning colder/light snow)
April 23-24, 2021 (heavy rain/isolated severe storms)
April 28-29, 2021 (flooding rain/isolated severe storms)

 

Additional April Details
 
For more details about April, 2021...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, 2021 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

April, 2021 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was mostly above average in northern and western Arkansas, and at/below average in the south/east. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

To right, a look at precipitation across the state. April, 2021 Precipitation in Arkansas

 

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