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
 
Moderate drought (D1) conditions existed in far southwest Arkansas on 01/28/2020.

There was a moderate drought (D1) in far southwest Arkansas to end January. Next Page Update: March 6

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 93.87%
D0-D4 6.13%
D1-D4 0.37%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: Moderate drought (D1) conditions existed in far southwest Arkansas on 01/28/2020.
 
As of February 1st, there was a low wildfire danger and no burn bans were posted.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 01/28/2020.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 01/28/2020.
 

Across the country, moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) conditions continued from Texas to the central and southern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest. Drought was not much of a problem in Arkansas.

 

Twenty four hour rainfall through 01/11/2020.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall through 01/11/2020.
 

A wet January helped keep drought to a minimum locally. On the 10th/11th, torrential rain accompanied a severe weather outbreak featuring more than 1,000 reports of wind damage from east Texas to the Carolinas and Virginia. Here at home, two to more than four inches of precipitation was common. For the month, amounts were one to more than three inches above normal.

 

Precipitation in January, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 5.50 2.84 +2.66 194%
Harrison (NC AR) 4.40 2.56 +1.84 172%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 6.40 3.43 +2.97 187%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 5.87 2.81 +3.06 209%
Little Rock (C AR) 6.84 3.55 +3.29 193%
West Memphis (EC AR) 6.13 4.18 +1.95 147%
Texarkana (SW AR) 5.29 3.40 +1.89 156%
El Dorado (SC AR) 6.58 4.30 +2.28 153%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 6.19 3.76 +2.43 165%

 

Departure from average precipitation in December, 2019.
In the picture: Departure from average precipitation in December, 2019.
 

This followed a very dry December and some worry about drought. Monthly precipitation totals were two to four inches subpar at most sites. Parts of the north and west got less than an inch of liquid, including Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Across the state, it was the driest month of 2019.

 

Precipitation in December, 2019
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.33 3.24 -1.91 41%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.38 3.20 -1.82 43%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.55 4.77 -2.22 53%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 0.87 3.29 -2.42 26%
Little Rock (C AR) 1.62 4.97 -3.35 33%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.09 5.42 -3.33 39%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.40 5.05 -3.65 28%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.76 5.18 -3.42 34%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.29 5.44 -3.15 42%

 

Drought got started locally in late August and September, 2019. In August, less than an inch of rain fell at El Dorado (Union County), with under two inches at Texarkana (Miller County). Much more of the region experienced dryness in September. Precipitation was an inch to more than two inches below normal at many locations. From July 22nd through the end of September, only 0.41 inch of rain settled the dust at El Dorado (Union County).

Heat was a large contributor to the drought. Average temperatures were 6 to 10 degrees above normal, which made it the warmest September on record in Arkansas (tied with 1925).

The drought took a hit after a deluge in October. Rainfall was well above average (by two to three times the normal amount) in the northwest and portions of the south/east, including El Dorado (Union County), Fayetteville (Washington County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Harrison (Boone County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County). 

 

It was wet to very wet across much of Arkansas in 2019.
Precipitation  |  Departure From Normal  |  Percent of Normal
In the pictures: It was wet to very wet across much of Arkansas in 2019.
 

Drought really never had a chance to gain momentum in 2019 because the sky opened way too much. There was a surplus of precipitation by more than a foot at Fayetteville (Washington County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Harrison (Boone County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in 2019
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 65.26 48.51 +16.75 135%
Harrison (NC AR) 56.98 44.14 +12.84 129%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 65.89 48.10 +17.79 137%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 67.50 45.46 +22.04 148%
Little Rock (C AR) 60.46 49.75 +10.71 122%
West Memphis (EC AR) 73.86 52.23 +20.63 141%
Texarkana (SW AR) 51.53 49.65 +1.88 104%
El Dorado (SC AR) 60.64 52.92 +7.72 115%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 63.96 51.15 +12.81 125%

 

Excessive rain and river flooding led to a lack of planting by farmers. The Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers were high to overflowing at times through the spring. Then the Arkansas River reached unprecedented levels in late May and early June. Fields were either under water or too wet for use through much of the beginning of the growing season. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on August 12th, and it was mentioned that the state had 1.3 million unplanted (or prevented) acres. This was 5th highest in the nation. Within a couple of days, 44 counties were declared primary natural disaster areas, and 24 neighboring counties were designated as contiguous disaster areas.

 

Drought outlook through April, 2020.
In the picture: Drought outlook through April, 2020.
 

Looking ahead, there are signs the pattern will remain active from February into early spring. Data is showing big slugs of moisture and significant precipitation at times. While drought will likely remain an issue west of the region, it should not be much of a concern in Arkansas.

 

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