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 was no drought in Arkansas on 03/26/2019.

There was no drought in Arkansas to end March, 2019. Next Page Update: May 3

 
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 was no drought in Arkansas on 03/26/2019.
 
As of March 31st, there were no burn bans in Arkansas, but a moderate wildfire danger existed across the northern half of the state (due to recent dry conditions).
 
 
Drought conditions as of 03/26/2019.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 03/26/2019.
 

Across the country, drought conditions were the worst in parts of New Mexico and southern Texas. In these areas, a moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) was ongoing. For much of the winter, a widespread drought was noted in much of the western United States, but the situation had vastly improved. In fact, there were high water issues (due to excessive precipitation) in places including parts of California.  

After seven consecutive months of above average precipitation in Arkansas, rain was mostly below normal in March. Liquid was subpar by more than an inch at Harrison (Boone County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Texarkana (Miller County). Water levels on area rivers were slowly dropping, with minor flooding continuing along portions of the Ouachita and lower White Rivers to end the month.

 

Precipitation in March, 2019
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 4.32 3.95 +0.37 109%
Harrison (NC AR) 2.60 3.79 -1.19 69%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.44 4.50 -0.06 99%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 2.86 3.85 -0.99 74%
Little Rock (C AR) 3.32 4.68 -1.36 71%
West Memphis (EC AR) 5.43 4.94 +0.49 110%
Texarkana (SW AR) 2.54 4.20 -1.66 60%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.94 4.75 +0.19 104%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.62 5.40 -0.78 86%

 

For the year (2019), there was more than the usual precipitation through the first three months, especially in eastern sections of the state. There was a surplus of liquid by more than six inches at Jonesboro (Craighead County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in 2019 (Through March)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 10.85 9.60 +1.25 113%
Harrison (NC AR) 10.89 8.99 +1.90 121%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 19.48 11.65 +7.83 167%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 11.85 9.42 +2.43 126%
Little Rock (C AR) 13.51 11.89 +1.62 114%
West Memphis (EC AR) 21.86 13.57 +8.29 161%
Texarkana (SW AR) 11.03 11.59 -0.56 95%
El Dorado (SC AR) 15.33 13.84 +1.49 111%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 15.57 13.22 +2.35 118%

 

It was wet to very wet across much of Arkansas in 2018, especially across central and southern sections.
Precipitation  |  Departure From Normal  |  Percent of Normal
In the pictures: It was wet to very wet across much of Arkansas in 2018, especially across central and southern sections.
 

It was a Top 10 wet year in 2018. The statewide average rainfall was just over 64 inches, which is more than 14 inches above average. Precipitation was at least 20 inches in the plus category at Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County).

 

Precipitation in 2018
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 46.63 48.51 -2.15 96%
Harrison (NC AR) 47.78 44.14 +3.64 108%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 67.80 48.10 +19.70 141%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 54.17 45.46 +8.71 119%
Little Rock (C AR) 71.41 49.75 +21.66 144%
West Memphis (EC AR) 55.49 52.23 +3.26 106%
Texarkana (SW AR) 54.95 49.65 +5.30 111%
El Dorado (SC AR) 58.98 52.92 +6.06 111%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 76.83 51.15 +25.68 150%

 

Drought outlook through June, 2019.
In the picture: Drought outlook through June, 2019.
 

Looking ahead, the majority of long range forecast models are showing wet weather in the spring despite a lack of rain recently. This will be monitored closely. If the models are correct, drought should not become much of an issue locally.

Given so much rain prior to March, and a wet forecast, river flooding (not drought) is the main concern moving forward. In eastern Arkansas, this could interrupt the beginning of the growing season (fields under water or too muddy to plant). 

From 2014 through 2018, there were several droughts. The south and west fared the worst. Even so, rainfall during this time frame were generally above to well above average.

 

Precipitation Statistics (2014-2018)
Site 2018 +/- 2017 +/- 2016 +/- 2015 +/- 2014 +/- Total +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 46.63 -2.15 51.22 +2.71 33.37 -15.14 65.71 +17.20 39.08 -9.43 -6.81
Harrison (NC AR) 47.78 +3.64 40.89 -3.25 35.41 -8.73 62.64 +18.50 41.20 -2.94 +7.22
Jonesboro (NE AR) 67.80 +19.70 46.07 -2.03 52.56 +4.46 64.53 +16.43 44.15 -3.95 +34.61
Fort Smith (WC AR) 54.17 +8.71 47.96 +2.50 31.18 -14.28 73.93 +28.47 42.14 -3.32 +22.08
Little Rock (C AR) 71.41 +21.66 47.27 -2.48 56.12 +6.37 61.23 +11.48 48.13 -1.62 +35.41
West Memphis (EC AR) 55.49 +3.26 46.64 -5.59 53.02 +0.79 49.04 -3.19 49.08 -3.15 -7.88
Texarkana (SW AR) 54.95 +5.30 50.03 +0.38 49.33 -0.32 63.54 +13.89 35.24 -14.41 +4.84
El Dorado (SC AR) 58.98 +6.06 46.70 -6.22 61.64 +8.72 59.94 +7.02 41.03 -11.89 +3.69
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 76.83 +25.68 50.80 -0.35 54.38 +3.23 51.31 +0.16 41.41 -9.74 +18.98

 

In recent years, when the rain stopped coming and very dry conditions developed, it was a short term worry. Drought breakers such as a deluge from mid-November to mid-December, 2011 took care of the problem.

 

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