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 01/05/2021.

There were no drought conditions in Arkansas to begin the new year. Next Page Update: February 5, 2021

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 83.35%
D0-D4 16.65%
D1-D4 0%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There were no drought conditions in Arkansas on 01/05/2021.
 
As of January 7th, the wildfire danger was low statewide, and there were no burn bans.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 01/05/2021.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 01/05/2021.
 

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

 

Seventy two hour rainfall as of 600 am CST on 01/01/2021.
In the picture: Seventy two hour rainfall as of 600 am CST on 01/01/2021.
 

In Arkansas, December started off dry, but that came to a screeching halt by the 30th/31st. A big rain event resulted in more than three inch amounts across the southern half of the state. Seventy two hour rainfall amounts through 600 am CST on January 1st included 4.86 inches at Monticello (Drew County), 4.10 inches at El Dorado (Union County). 3.97 inches at Mount Ida (Montgomery County). 3.79 inches at De Queen (Sevier County), 3.73 inches at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Texarkana (Miller County), 3.26 inches at Hot Springs (Garland County), and 3.05 inches at Little Rock (Pulaski County).

For the month, rainfall was still below average (by less than an inch) across the northern and central counties, and above average (by more than two inches in some cases) in the south. Given the deluge, existing drought conditions in the southwest subsided

 

Precipitation in December, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 2.89 3.24 -0.35 89%
Harrison (NC AR) 2.23 3.20 -0.97 70%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.12 4.77 -0.65 86%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 4.09 3.29 +0.80 124%
Little Rock (C AR) 4.77 4.97 -0.20 96%
West Memphis (EC AR) 5.60 5.42 +0.18 103%
Texarkana (SW AR) 6.99 5.05 +1.94 138%
El Dorado (SC AR) 7.62 5.18 +2.44 147%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 6.70 5.44 +1.26 123%

 

Departure from average rainfall in November, 2020.
In the picture: Departure from average rainfall in November, 2020.
 

How did the drought get started? It was a very dry November. Parts of southern Arkansas received less than an inch of liquid. Rainfall was two to more than three inches below normal across much of the area.

 

Precipitation in November, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 2.16 4.23 -2.07 51%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.80 4.23 -2.43 43%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.32 4.90 -2.58 47%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.95 4.44 -2.49 44%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.10 5.28 -3.18 40%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.83 4.95 -3.12 37%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.77 4.82 -4.05 16%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.46 4.89 -3.43 30%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.48 4.83 -3.35 31%

 

From the end of July to the end of 2020, the soil was generally dry to very dry in the western United States, and also the northeast. It was wet to very wet across the southeast states and the western Great Lakes. Moisture slowly declined in the mid-South (including Arkansas) toward the end of the period.
Soil Moisture (07/31)  |  Soil Moisture (09/03)
Soil Moisture (09/30)  |  Soil Moisture (11/01)
Soil Moisture (12/02)  |  Soil Moisture (12/31)
In the pictures: From the end of July to the end of 2020, the soil was generally dry to very dry in the western United States, and also the northeast. It was wet to very wet across the southeast states and the western Great Lakes. Moisture slowly declined in the mid-South (including Arkansas) toward the end of the period.
 

Umbrellas were also not needed in the southwest in October. There was more than a three inch rainfall deficit at Texarkana (Miller County). While this was concerning, it was the wettest part of the state as the month began, and there were no clear signs of drought. For example, while soil moisture/ground water levels dropped, it was not alarming. 

 

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.
 

For the year (2020), amounts were six to more than twelve inches above normal at many locations. Surpluses of rain were highest (by over twenty inches in some cases) in west central Arkansas. Totals were closer to normal (by an inch or two) in portions of the north/northeast, and also the far northwest.

 

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 the year 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).

 

During the summer (June through August), the NMME (North American Multi-Model Ensemble) called for wet weather in Arkansas, and drier conditions in the fall (September through November).
NMME Precipitation Outlook (Jun-Aug)  |  NMME Precipitation Outlook (Sep-Nov)
In the pictures: During the summer (June through August), the NMME (North American Multi-Model Ensemble) called for wet weather in Arkansas, and drier conditions in the fall (September through November).
 

Looking ahead, while summer (June through August) was largely wet, it dried out somewhat during the fall. This overall dryness is expected to carry into the coming weeks.

 

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

We are in the midst of a weak to moderate La Niña, meaning that the water is cooling along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. When this happens, there is a tendency for less than usual precipitation across the southern United States during the winter. Should this happen, drought may expand and worsen 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

 

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