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 widespread moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions across Arkansas on 11/22/2022.

There were widespread moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions across Arkansas in late November. Next Page Update: December 2, 2022

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 0%
D0-D4 100%
D1-D4 88.07%
D2-D4 40.36%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There were widespread moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions across Arkansas on 11/22/2022.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 11/22/2022.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 11/22/2022.
 

Across the country, moderate to exceptional drought (D1 to D4) conditions were widespread. Drought was the most spotty in parts of the Rockies, Great Lakes, and along the East Coast.

Here at home in November (through the 24th), there was a tornado outbreak on the 4th (16 tornadoes), During the event, storm clouds unleashed one to more than three inches of rain. Unfortunately, not much fell from the sky in the days to follow (a few light rain/light snow events). Precipitation departures were shifting from the plus to minus category, but there was more rain coming to end the month.

 

Precipitation in November, 2022 (Through the 24th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.60 3.05 +0.55 118%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.93 3.25 +0.68 121%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.99 3.42 -1.43 58%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.42 3.15 +0.27 109%
Little Rock (C AR) 3.74 3.70 +0.04 101%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.27 3.47 -0.20 94%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.89 3.10 +0.79 125%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.05 2.93 +1.12 138%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.32 3.04 +1.28 142%

 

Rainfall in October, 2022. While beneficial precipitation helped settle the dust in parts of northern and western Arkansas, it was not so wet in much of the south/east.
In the picture: Rainfall in October, 2022. While beneficial precipitation helped settle the dust in parts of northern and western Arkansas, it was not so wet in much of the south/east.
 

There was a deluge in October, especially in much of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, and in the Arkansas River Valley west of Conway (Faulkner County). This part of the state received three to more than five inch amounts. It was not so wet in the south/east, with less than two inches of rain in places.

 

Precipitation in October, 2022
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.21 4.48 -1.27 72%
Harrison (NC AR) 4.31 3.81 +0.50 113%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.29 3.81 -1.52 60%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 6.28 4.42 +1.86 142%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.22 4.47 -2.25 50%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.43 4.09 -0.66 84%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.48 4.51 -3.03 33%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.94 4.58 -0.64 86%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.02 4.58 -2.56 44%

 

Given beneficial rain in October/early November, soil moisture was close to normal to a little below normal across Arkansas on 11/24/2022. However, dry to very dry conditions were just to the west in the Plains.
In the picture: Given beneficial rain in October/early November, soil moisture was close to normal to a little below normal across Arkansas on 11/24/2022. However, dry to very dry conditions were just to the west in the Plains.
 

For the year (through November 24th), more areas were parched than wet. Precipitation deficits exceeded four inches at Fayetteville (Washington County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Texarkana (Miller County). The wettest conditions existed from west central into central and northeast Arkansas. There was an excess of liquid over five inches at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in 2022 (Through November 24th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 37.21 43.26 -6.05 86%
Harrison (NC AR) 39.38 40.85 -1.47 96%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 40.64 43.08 -2.44 94%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 50.94 43.16 +7.78 118%
Little Rock (C AR) 41.48 44.32 -2.84 94%
West Memphis (EC AR) 48.90 43.60 +5.30 112%
Texarkana (SW AR) 39.19 43.38 -4.19 90%
El Dorado (SC AR) 46.07 45.61 +0.46 101%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 39.62 44.58 -4.96 89%

 

Prior to October, raindrops were few and far between in September. Precipitation was one to more than three inches below average, and less than an inch of liquid was measured at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and Little Rock (Pulaski County).

It was a generally wet August (and very wet in the northeast and south). Rainfall amounts exceeded five inches at Batesville (Independence County), Black Rock (Lawrence County), Calico Rock (Izard County), and Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), with six to ten inch totals at El Dorado (Union County), Magnolia (Columbia County), and Texarkana (Miller County).

The wet scenario in August was a far cry from what happened the previous two months. From June 11th to July 26th, umbrellas were not needed much. Outside of a localized cloudburst in southern Arkansas on July 3rd, and over five inches of rain at El Dorado (Union County), precipitation was three to more than five inches below average.

 

Precipitation (June 11th to July 26th, 2022)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 0.47 6.11 -5.64 8%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.74 5.58 -3.84 31%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.40 5.00 -3.60 28%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 0.11 5.87 -5.76 2%
Little Rock (C AR) 0.83 5.06 -4.23 16%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.40 6.20 -4.80 23%
Texarkana (SW AR) 0.70 5.26 -4.56 13%
El Dorado (SC AR) 6.38 5.50 +0.88 116%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.52 5.18 -3.66 29%

 

It was very hot, especially in the west. Triple digit heat was experienced on twenty five days at Texarkana (Miller County) in June and July, and twenty four days at Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The temperature reached 107 degrees at Mountain Home (Baxter County) on July 20th, 105 degrees at Russellville (Pope County) on the 19th and 26th, and 104 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County) on the 26th. These locations had not experienced readings this high since 2012. The thermometer showed 108 degrees at Texarkana (Miller County) on July 9th, which was the hottest temperature locally since 2011.

 

Drought outlook through February, 2023.
In the picture: Drought outlook through February, 2023.
 

Looking ahead, a weak to moderate La Niña (cooler than normal water along the equator in the Pacific Ocean) is firmly established, and this should continue through the first few months of 2023.

As we head into the cooler months, it is typical for less rain than usual across the southern United States. Long term data is showing below normal precipitation through the fall/early winter. At the same time, ground water usage will decline markedly as vegetation goes dormant. Given no rain, drought would worsen very slowly, but has the potential to improve quickly given periodic downpours. While the drought will likely continue overall, it may be erased in parts of the state. The situation will be monitored closely.

 

Precipitation Statistics (2017-2021)
Site 2021 +/- 2020 +/- 2019 +/- 2018 +/- 2017 +/- Total +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 42.60 -4.36 49.86 +1.35 65.26 +16.75 46.63 -2.15 51.22 +2.71 +14.30
Harrison (NC AR) 46.81 +2.31 53.60 +9.46 56.98 +12.84 47.78 +3.64 40.89 -3.25 +25.00
Jonesboro (NE AR) 41.36 -7.15 56.25 +8.15 65.89 +17.79 67.80 +19.70 46.07 -2.03 +36.46
Fort Smith (WC AR) 50.60 +3.26 61.62 +16.16 67.50 +22.04 54.17 +8.71 47.96 +2.50 +52.67
Little Rock (C AR) 43.71 -6.71 60.04 +10.29 60.46 +10.71 71.41 +21.66 47.27 -2.48 +33.47
West Memphis (EC AR) 44.66 -5.74 53.89 +1.66 73.86 +20.63 55.49 +3.26 46.64 -5.59 +14.22
Texarkana (SW AR) 47.03 -1.84 68.81 +19.16 51.53 +1.88 54.95 +5.30 50.03 +0.38 +24.88
El Dorado (SC AR) 49.27 -2.85 66.18 +13.26 60.64 +7.72 58.98 +6.06 46.70 -6.22 +17.97
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 44.94 -5.87 63.04 +11.89 63.96 +12.81 76.83 +25.68 50.80 -0.35 +44.16

 

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