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 were noted in very small portions of western and central Arkansas on 10/19/2021.

There were very small areas of moderate drought (D1) in western and central Arkansas in mid-October. There were patches of abnormally dry conditions (D0) elsewhere. Next Page Update: November 5

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 60.86%
D0-D4 39.14%
D1-D4 0.55%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: Moderate drought (D1) conditions were noted in very small portions of western and central Arkansas on 10/19/2021.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 10/19/2021.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 10/19/2021.
 

Across the country, moderate to exceptional drought (D1 to D4) conditions continued from the western United States into the Plains, upper Midwest, and parts of New England.

In Arkansas, October started off wet in the northwest (through the 20th). Rainfall was more than four inches above average at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and one to two inches on the plus side of normal at Harrison (Boone County). While there were pockets of heavy rain elsewhere, precipitation was mostly subpar. One to two inch rainfall deficits were noted at El Dorado (Union County) and Texarkana (Miller County).

 

Precipitation in October, 2021 (Through the 20th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.35 2.83 +0.52 118%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.87 2.35 +1.52 165%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.23 2.40 -0.17 93%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 7.54 2.73 +4.81 276%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.67 2.72 -0.05 98%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.60 2.54 +0.06 102%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.88 2.86 -1.98 31%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.45 2.91 -1.46 50%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.75 2.90 -0.15 95%

 

It was dry across much of the state in September. Rainfall was more than an inch and a half below average at many locations including Fayetteville (Washington County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Harrison (Boone County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Texarkana (Miller County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County)..

 

Precipitation in September, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.93 4.26 -2.33 45%
Harrison (NC AR) 2.30 4.06 -1.76 57%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.75 3.30 -0.55 83%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.88 4.04 -2.16 47%
Little Rock (C AR) 1.10 3.01 -1.91 37%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.04 3.05 -2.01 34%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.95 3.60 -2.65 26%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.75 3.23 -1.48 54%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.28 3.09 -0.81 74%

 

For the year (2021) so far (through September). drier than usual conditions were observed in northern and central sections of Arkansas. This was the case at Fayetteville (Washington County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County). Precipitation was generally above average in the south.

 

Precipitation in 2021 (Through September)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 29.57 35.73 -6.16 83%
Harrison (NC AR) 35.44 33.79 +1.65 105%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 34.03 35.85 -1.82 95%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 34.96 35.59 -0.63 98%
Little Rock (C AR) 33.73 36.15 -2.42 93%
West Memphis (EC AR) 35.54 36.93 -1.39 96%
Texarkana (SW AR) 39.09 35.77 +3.32 109%
El Dorado (SC AR) 41.56 38.10 +3.46 109%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 36.06 36.96 -0.90 98%

 

From the end of July, 2020 to mid-September, 2021, the soil was dry to very dry in the western United States. Wet conditions were noted early in many areas east of the Rockies, but moisture levels fluctuated over time. By the end of the period, it was dry in the northern Plains, upper Midwest, and parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida.
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)  |  Soil Moisture (08/02/21)
Soil Moisture (09/13/21)  |  Loop
In the pictures: From the end of July, 2020 to mid-September, 2021, the soil was dry to very dry in the western United States. Wet conditions were noted early in many areas east of the Rockies, but moisture levels fluctuated over time. By the end of the period, it was dry in the northern Plains, upper Midwest, and parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida.
 

Soil moisture was inflated as summer began. Ground water levels slowly dropped across the northern half of Arkansas in August and September, signaling the potential of a developing drought.

 

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.
 

Overall, drought has not been a factor since 2018. In each of the last three years (including 2020), rainfall surpluses were in the double digits.

 

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 January, 2022.
In the picture: Drought outlook through January, 2022.
 

Despite some wetness in October, long term data is showing a dry scenario as the fall progresses. There are signs this pattern could hold into early winter. The situation will be monitored closely.

The tropics have offered little help. The remnants of Hurricane Ida, Tropical Storm Mindy, and Hurricane Nicholas went to the south/east of Arkansas (in late August/early September). Most of us missed out on appreciable rain from these systems.

 

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