National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
How Dry Is It?
Abnormally Dry Conditions
At times, below normal precipitation will lead to a lack of ground water and worsening drought conditions in Arkansas. Check out the latest conditions below.
 
Monitoring Drought in Arkansas
 
Drought Status
 
There were no drought conditions in Arkansas on 06/29/2021.

There were no drought conditions across Arkansas to begin July. Next Page Update: August 6

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 100%
D0-D4 0%
D1-D4 0%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There were no drought conditions in Arkansas on 06/29/2021.
 
As of July 15th, there was a low wildfire danger across the state. No burn bans were in effect..
 
 
Drought conditions as of 06/29/2021.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 06/29/2021.
 

Across the country, moderate to exceptional drought (D1 to D4) conditions continued from the western United States into the northern Plains, upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and New England. There were also spots of moderate drought (D1) from the mid-Atlantic states to Florida.

 

Record Heat and Bone Dry in the West

Long term drought and a lack of rain in the western United States contributed to extreme heat, low water levels, and wildfires in June.

On the 15th, the temperature at Billings, MT soared to 108 degrees, which tied the all-time high in the city. The same thing happened at Sheridan, WY and Salt Lake City, UT, with the mercury topping out at 107 degrees. Wildfires were ongoing in the west as of the 18th. This included a large 165,000 acre Telegraph Fire east of Phoenix, AZ, and close to a 30,000 acre Pinnacle Fire northeast of Tucson, AZ. Lake Mead was experiencing the lowest water levels since the 1930s (about a third of its full capacity). Sitting just east of Las Vegas, NV along the Colorado River, the lake supplies water to 25,000,000 people.

All-time highs were established at Portland, OR and Seattle, WA on the 28th, with thermometers showing 116 degrees and 108 degrees respectively. Highways buckled and streetcar cables melted. The majority of homes in this part of the world are not equipped with air conditioners, so many folks went to cooling centers for relief.

 

Thirty day rainfall ending at 700 am CDT on 06/12/2021. Ten to more than fifteen inches of rain was common in much of central and southern Arkansas.
In the picture: Thirty day rainfall ending at 700 am CDT on 06/12/2021. Ten to more than fifteen inches of rain was common in much of central and southern Arkansas.
 

After a very wet May from southwest to central Arkansas, the southeast got torrential downpours in early June. Flooding was extensive in the southeast, with many acres of farmland under water.

 

Crop Losses in Southeast Arkansas

An economist with the Arkansas Agriculture Experiment Station estimated that record rainfall and widespread flooding in southeast Arkansas on June 8th/9th cost farmers at least $200 million in losses ($70 million each in soybeans and rice, and $60 million in corn). There are more details here.

 

Rohwer (Desha County) had 19.22 inches of rain on the 8th/9th, the second highest two day total in Arkansas recorded history. Stuttgart (Arkansas County) received 7.50 inches of rain on the 9th, which was the most liquid in one day at the site. The last three weeks of the month were not so wet. In fact, from the 10th through the 30th, less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation was measured across the central third of the state including Hot Springs (Garland County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County). By the end of June, more sites than not had below average rainfall..

 

Precipitation in June, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.02 4.31 -1.29 70%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.92 3.85 +0.07 102%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.67 3.05 -0.38 88%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.05 4.56 -1.51 67%
Little Rock (C AR) 7.11 3.55 +3.56 200%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.25 4.10 -0.85 79%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.30 3.92 -0.62 84%
El Dorado (SC AR) 2.75 3.88 -1.13 71%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 7.14 3.27 +3.87 218%

 

For the year (2021) so far (through June), while there was some dryness in places, it was wetter than usual overall. This was especially true in central and southern sections of the state where rainfall was four to more than eight inches above average at multiple locations.

 

Precipitation in 2021 (Through June)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 22.94 24.50 -1.56 94%
Harrison (NC AR) 28.14 22.64 +5.50 124%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 25.34 25.45 -0.11 100%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 24.28 24.56 -0.28 99%
Little Rock (C AR) 27.70 26.65 +1.05 104%
West Memphis (EC AR) 25.48 27.39 -1.91 93%
Texarkana (SW AR) 30.58 25.82 +4.76 118%
El Dorado (SC AR) 27.50 28.04 -0.54 98%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 30.88 26.80 +4.08 115%

 

From the end of July, 2020 to late June, 2021, the soil was dry to very dry in the western United States. Early on, wet conditions were noted in many areas east of the Rockies. Gradual drying occurred over time, especially from the northern Plains to the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and New England. By the end of the period, moisture returned from eastern Texas to the Carolinas (including Arkansas).
Soil Moisture (07/31/20)  |  Soil Moisture (09/03/20)  |  Soil Moisture (09/30/20)
Soil Moisture (11/01/20)  |  Soil Moisture (12/02/20)  |  Soil Moisture (12/31/20)
Soil Moisture (01/21/21)  |  Soil Moisture (03/19/21)  |  Soil Moisture (04/14/21)
Soil Moisture (05/22/21)  |  Soil Moisture (06/23/21)  |  Loop
In the pictures: From the end of July, 2020 to late June, 2021, the soil was dry to very dry in the western United States. Early on, wet conditions were noted in many areas east of the Rockies. Gradual drying occurred over time, especially from the northern Plains to the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and New England. By the end of the period, moisture returned from eastern Texas to the Carolinas (including Arkansas).
 

Soil moisture was generally inflated heading into early July. This is a variable that is monitored for signs of drought. While ground water levels fluctuated in the last year across Arkansas (with a minimum in late 2020/early 2021), they never got low enough to worry much about drought development.

 

It was wet to very wet across much of Arkansas in 2020.
Precipitation  |  Departure From Normal  |  Percent of Normal
In the pictures: It was wet to very wet across much of Arkansas in 2020.
 

In fact, drought has not been a factor since 2018. In each of the last three years, rainfall surpluses were in the double digits. That was certainly the case in 2020, mainly in central and southern Arkansas.

 

Precipitation in 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 49.86 48.51 +1.35 103%
Harrison (NC AR) 53.60 44.14 +9.46 121%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 56.25 48.10 +8.15 117%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 61.62 45.46 +16.16 136%
Little Rock (C AR) 60.04 49.75 +10.29 121%
West Memphis (EC AR) 53.89 52.23 +1.66 103%
Texarkana (SW AR) 68.81 49.65 +19.16 139%
El Dorado (SC AR) 66.18 52.92 +13.26 125%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 63.04 51.15 +11.89 123%

 

Drought outlook through October, 2021.
In the picture: Drought outlook through October, 2021.
 

As far as the forecast, it does not appear that recent dryness will be a persistent issue. While ridges of high pressure will crank up the heat and shut off downpours at times this summer, the ridges will wobble away often enough to allow storm systems/fronts to bring decent rain chances.

 

The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) from the Climate Prediction Center is indicating above average precipitation from the southern Plains to the southeast United States from July through September, 2021.
In the picture: The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) from the Climate Prediction Center is indicating above average precipitation from the southern Plains to the southeast United States from July through September, 2021.
 

Models are indicating at or above average precipitation from Texas to the southeast states (including Arkansas) from July through September. An active tropical season certainly boosts the odds of a wet scenario.

As a heads up, data is showing a drier picture from the late summer into the fall. There are signs this pattern could hold into the winter. The situation will be monitored closely.

 

Precipitation Statistics (2015-2019)
Site 2019 +/- 2018 +/- 2017 +/- 2016 +/- 2015 +/- Total +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 65.26 +16.75 46.63 -2.15 51.22 +2.71 33.37 -15.14 65.71 +17.20 +19.37
Harrison (NC AR) 56.98 +12.84 47.78 +3.64 40.89 -3.25 35.41 -8.73 62.64 +18.50 +23.00
Jonesboro (NE AR) 65.89 +17.79 67.80 +19.70 46.07 -2.03 52.56 +4.46 64.53 +16.43 +56.35
Fort Smith (WC AR) 67.50 +22.04 54.17 +8.71 47.96 +2.50 31.18 -14.28 73.93 +28.47 +47.44
Little Rock (C AR) 60.46 +10.71 71.41 +21.66 47.27 -2.48 56.12 +6.37 61.23 +11.48 +47.74
West Memphis (EC AR) 73.86 +20.63 55.49 +3.26 46.64 -5.59 53.02 +0.79 49.04 -3.19 +15.90
Texarkana (SW AR) 51.53 +1.88 54.95 +5.30 50.03 +0.38 49.33 -0.32 63.54 +13.89 +21.13
El Dorado (SC AR) 60.64 +7.72 58.98 +6.06 46.70 -6.22 61.64 +8.72 59.94 +7.02 +23.30
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 63.96 +12.81 76.83 +25.68 50.80 -0.35 54.38 +3.23 51.31 +0.16 +41.53

 

Looking back at recorded history, drought is no stranger to Arkansas. The good news is that periods of drought are generally short-lived. That was the case in 2011 when a deluge unfolded from mid-November to mid-December.

 

Thirty day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/11/2011. Twelve to more than eighteen inches of rain was measured from Mena (Polk County) to Mount Ida (Montgomery County), Russellville (Pope County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Jonesboro (Craighead County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County).
In the picture: Thirty day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/11/2011.

 

Hurricane Isaac brought much needed rain to drought stricken areas of the south and east in late August, 2012. Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) had 8.39 inches in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on September 1st.

Hurricane Isaac was just off the coast of Louisiana at 425 pm CDT on 08/28/2012.
In the picture: Hurricane Isaac was just off the coast of Louisiana at 425 pm CDT on 08/28/2012.

 

In September, 2013, areas from Little Rock (Pulaski County) southward got two to four inches of rain, with locally over six inches on the 19th/20th. Some of these amounts exceeded what would normally be expected during the entire month. This busted a short term extreme (D3) drought that peaked just a few days prior to the rain.

The southern half of Arkansas dealt with a moderate to extreme drought (D2 to D4) in October, 2015. Very dry air and heat in the middle of the month made conditions worse. On the 15th, Little Rock experienced the hottest October day on record when the thermometer showed 98 degrees. Fast forward to the wettest November in recorded state history, and the drought was erased.

 

Precipitation Trends

 

Streamflow and Soil Moisture
 
Most recent streamflow (values in the 25th to 75th percentile are normal)
Most recent soil moisture (values between 30 and 70 percent are normal)

 

Fire Danger

 

The Forecast