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
 
Drought conditions were absent across Arkansas on 07/28/2020, but there were abnormally dry conditions in the north.

There was no drought in Arkansas to end July, but abnormally dry conditions (D0) existed in the north. Next Page Update: August 14

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 76.92%
D0-D4 23.08%
D1-D4 0%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: Drought conditions were absent across Arkansas on 07/28/2020, but there were abnormally dry conditions in the north.
 
As of July 31st, there was a moderate wildfire danger in twelve counties across northwest Arkansas. Otherwise, the wildfire danger was low with no burn bans posted.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 07/28/2020.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 07/28/2020.
 

Across the country, moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) conditions were gradually spreading to the east from the Pacific Coast to the Rockies into the Plains. There was also a moderate to severe drought (D1) from the Ohio Valley to New England.

While drought was not an issue in Arkansas, there were signs of dryness. In June, there was not much rain in the northwest. Only 0.75 inch of liquid fell at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), with two to three inch amounts at Fayetteville (Washington County). Rainfall deficits at these sites were two to more than three inches below average. In the far east, precipitation was subpar for the third month in a row at West Memphis (Crittenden County). The driest part of the state in July was the northeast. There was less than the usual rain at Blytheville (Mississippi County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and Newport (Jackson County) by one to more than two inches.

 

Precipitation in July, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 4.24 3.46 +0.78 123%
Harrison (NC AR) 2.32 3.14 -0.82 74%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.94 3.54 -1.60 55%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.55 3.30 +0.25 108%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.43 3.27 -0.84 74%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.88 3.41 +0.47 114%
Texarkana (SW AR) 7.00 3.44 +3.56 203%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.14 3.56 -0.42 88%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 3.30 3.93 -0.63 84%

 

The soil was wet to very wet in many areas east of the Rockies on 07/31/2020 except for parts of the southeast United States and the Ohio Valley to New England. It was dry to very dry farther to the west.
In the picture: The soil was wet to very wet in many areas east of the Rockies on 07/31/2020 except for parts of the southeast United States and the Ohio Valley to New England. It was dry to very dry farther to the west.
 

For the year so far (through July, 2020), amounts were four to more than ten inches above normal at many locations. Surpluses of rain were highest in west central and southwest Arkansas.

 

Precipitation in 2020 (Through July)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 34.38 28.65 +5.73 120%
Harrison (NC AR) 33.36 25.38 +7.98 131%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 33.19 28.57 +4.62 116%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 31.42 26.77 +4.65 117%
Little Rock (C AR) 39.89 28.82 +11.07 138%
West Memphis (EC AR) 36.37 31.75 +4.62 115%
Texarkana (SW AR) 40.91 28.51 +12.40 143%
El Dorado (SC AR) 40.61 31.44 +9.17 129%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 38.75 30.71 +8.04 126%

 

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

Dry spells like the current situation in the north are nothing new going back to last year. From the fall into the winter of 2019, there was a moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) briefly in southwest Arkansas following a very dry (and hot) September and an even drier December.

 

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.
 

However, 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%

 

During the summer (June through August), the NMME (North American Multi-Model Ensemble) calls for wet weather from the upper Midwest to the southeast states (including Arkansas). The NMME outlook is drier locally from the late summer into the fall (August through October).
NMME Precipitation Outlook (Jun-Aug)  |  NMME Precipitation Outlook (Aug-Oct)
In the pictures: During the summer (June through August), the NMME (North American Multi-Model Ensemble) calls for wet weather from the upper Midwest to the southeast states (including Arkansas). The NMME outlook is drier locally from the late summer into the fall (August through October).
 

Looking ahead, while the outlook for the summer (through August) was largely wet, it appears there are changes coming. Dryness to the west may very well continue advancing into Arkansas.

 

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

We are trending toward a weak La Niña, meaning that the water is cooling along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. This may lead to a hotter and drier period, and better odds of a developing drought in parts of the state. At the same time, it will be active in the tropics. There were an unprecedented nine named storms in the Atlantic basin before August began, with an outside chance of significant rain locally if the remnants of a tropical system head this way.   

 

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