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 04/13/2021.

There were no drought conditions across Arkansas in mid-April. Next Page Update: May 1

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 97.51%
D0-D4 2.49%
D1-D4 0%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There were no drought conditions in Arkansas on 04/13/2021.
 
As of April 15th, there was a moderate wildfire danger in much of northern and western Arkansas, and a low wildfire danger elsewhere. No burn bans were in effect.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 04/13/2021.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 04/13/2021.
 

Across the country, moderate to exceptional drought (D1 to D4) conditions continued from the western into the central United States (not including Arkansas). There were also spots of moderate drought (D1) in portions of the northeast and Florida.

In Arkansas, the first half of April (through the 14th) was somewhat dry in much of the state. Rainfall deficits were generally under an inch, with one to two inch deficits in places like Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was wet in parts of the south. Precipitation was above average by almost an inch at El Dorado (Union County). 

 

Precipitation in April, 2021 (Through the 14th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.61 1.98 -0.37 81%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.31 1.80 -0.49 73%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.76 2.17 -0.41 81%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.59 2.00 -0.41 80%
Little Rock (C AR) 1.06 2.28 -1.22 46%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.21 2.01 -0.80 60%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.84 1.73 -0.89 49%
El Dorado (SC AR) 2.78 1.87 +0.91 149%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.24 2.27 -0.03 99%

 

Precipitation in March, 2021. It was really wet from the Tennessee Valley into the mid-South, with ten to fifteen inches of rain in places.
In the picture: Precipitation in March, 2021. It was really wet from the Tennessee Valley into the mid-South, with ten to fifteen inches of rain in places.
 

In March, it was largely wet across the northern and eastern counties, with surplus rain by more than an inch and a half at Harrison (Boone County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County). It was drier than usual in the west, but it was nothing alarming (rainfall was mostly subpar by less than an inch).

 

Precipitation in March, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.35 3.95 -0.60 85%
Harrison (NC AR) 6.84 3.79 +3.05 180%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 6.17 4.50 +1.67 137%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.61 3.85 -0.24 94%
Little Rock (C AR) 4.58 4.68 -0.10 98%
West Memphis (EC AR) 8.33 4.94 +3.39 169%
Texarkana (SW AR) 5.22 4.20 +1.02 124%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.61 4.75 -0.14 97%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 5.29 5.40 -0.11 98%

 

For the year (2021) so far (through April 14th), the driest locations (rainfall deficits of more than two inches) were in the northwest, and the wettest spots (rainfall surpluses of two inches or more) were in the southwest and northeast.

 

Precipitation in 2021 (Through April 14th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 8.23 11.58 -3.35 71%
Harrison (NC AR) 12.98 10.79 +2.19 120%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 16.16 13.82 +2.34 117%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 8.79 11.42 -2.63 77%
Little Rock (C AR) 13.15 14.17 -1.02 93%
West Memphis (EC AR) 17.15 15.58 +1.57 110%
Texarkana (SW AR) 15.29 13.32 +1.97 115%
El Dorado (SC AR) 16.04 15.71 +0.33 102%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 16.84 15.49 +1.35 109%

 

From the end of July, 2020 to mid-April, 2021, the soil was generally dry to very dry in the western United States, and from the Ohio Valley to New England. It was wet to very wet in the mid-Atlantic states. Early on, wet conditions were noted in many areas east of the Rockies, but gradual drying occurred. Toward the end of the period, moisture returned from the upper Midwest to the central Plains, and in much of the southeast.
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)  |  Loop
In the pictures: From the end of July, 2020 to mid-April, 2021, the soil was generally dry to very dry in the western United States, and from the Ohio Valley to New England. It was wet to very wet in the mid-Atlantic states. Early on, wet conditions were noted in many areas east of the Rockies, but gradual drying occurred. Toward the end of the period, moisture returned from the upper Midwest to the central Plains, and in much of the southeast.
 

One of the key indicators of drought is soil moisture. From November, 2020 through January, 2021, there was a marked decline in ground water from the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys into the mid-South. Abnormally dry conditions developed in areas north of Little Rock (Pulaski County). It is still abnormally dry in the northwest, and this will be monitored in the weeks ahead.

 

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.
 

Drought has not been a concern overall since 2018. In each of the last three years, rainfall surpluses were in the double digits. In 2020, amounts were six to more than twelve inches above normal at many locations.

 

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%

 

Too much rain to begin 2020 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. 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 1.1 million unplanted (or prevented) acres. This was 3rd highest in the nation behind North Dakota (2.6 million acres) and South Dakota (1.2 million acres).

 

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

Looking ahead, La Niña conditions are ongoing, meaning that the water is cooler than normal along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. When this happens, it can get active in the spring. In fact, La Niña was around during some of the largest outbreaks of tornadoes (1999, 2008, and 2011 come to mind). There was historic flooding as well. While there will be some rain during the balance of April, the impacts appear minor. Thunderstorms may ramp up again in May, but it looks more quiet thereafter. Some data is showing a lack of rain as spring progresses into summer, and this is concerning. Should this become reality, drought may worsen and expand locally.

 

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