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 was a moderate to severe drought from western into central Arkansas on 07/17/2018.

There was a moderate to severe drought in parts of western and central Arkansas heading into late July. Next Page Update: July 27

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 18.10%
D0-D4 81.90%
D1-D4 47.19%
D2-D4 2.50%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There was a moderate to severe drought from western into central Arkansas on 07/17/2018.
 
As of July 19th, there was a moderate wildfire danger in more than half of Arkansas (44 counties). Burn bans were posted in 4 counties.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 07/17/2018.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 07/17/2018.
 

Across the country, drought conditions were the worst in the central/southern Rockies. In this area, a severe to exceptional drought (D2 to D4) was common. Conditions were deteriorating from eastern Kansas and Missouri southward into Texas and Louisiana (including Arkansas). 

 

Soil moisture was declining the most (versus normal) from northeast Texas into Arkansas, and also over portions of the Ohio Valley from April 30th through July 11th, 2018.
In the picture: Soil moisture was declining the most (versus normal) from northeast Texas into Arkansas, and also over portions of the Ohio Valley from April 30th through July 11th, 2018.
 

Here at home, it was not a good situation to begin July. Soil moisture was declining rapidly, and rain was badly needed. Above average temperatures were also stressing vegetation. It was the warmest May/June (two month period) on record (almost 5 degrees above normal), and the 21st driest (a statewide average of 6.18 inches of liquid/9.24 inches is normal).

 

Record Warm Mays/Junes in Arkansas
Year Avg Temp +/-
2018 77.4° +4.8°
1953 76.5° +3.9°
2010 76.4° +3.8°
1998 76.3° +3.7°
1896 75.8° +3.2°
1918 75.8° +3.2°
2012 75.6° +3.0°
1911 75.4° +2.8°
1943 75.4° +2.8°
1977 75.4° +2.8°
1914 75.3° +2.7°

 

Seven day rainfall through 700 am CDT on 07/18/2018. Parts of western and central Arkansas got more than two inches of liquid. There were a few spots in parts of the state that got little to no precipitation.
In the picture: Seven day rainfall through 700 am CDT on 07/18/2018. Parts of western and central Arkansas got more than two inches of liquid. There were a few spots in parts of the state that got little to no precipitation.
 

From the 11th through the 17th, beneficial rain arrived with a cold front from the north. There were widespread totals from a half inch to an inch and a half. Locally more than two inches was measured. Given the hit and miss nature of the precipitation, some places got nary a drop of liquid. The largest totals occurred from the 16th on. For example, Waldron (Scott County) got 3.00 inches of rain in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 17th. At Holiday Island (Carroll County), 2.82 inches was reported, with 2.00 inches at Cove (Polk County). The next morning, Evening Shade (Sharp County), Greenbrier (Faulkner County), Cabot (Lonoke County), and Marche (Pulaski County) all had two inches or more. Meanwhile, Fort Smith (Sebastian County) had only 0.07 inch in a week, with 0.11 inch at Texarkana (Miller County).

Following this event, monthly precipitation remained more than an inch below average at El Dorado (Union County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in July, 2018 (Through the 17th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.80 2.09 -0.29 86%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.24 1.71 -0.47 73%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.05 2.18 -1.13 48%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 0.39 1.88 -1.49 21%
Little Rock (C AR) 1.80 1.89 -0.09 95%
West Memphis (EC AR) 0.15 1.82 -1.67 8%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.31 2.12 -0.81 62%
El Dorado (SC AR) 0.83 2.14 -1.31 39%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.52 2.15 -0.63 71%

 

Ninety day departure from average precipitation (in inches) through 700 am CDT on 07/17/2018.
In the picture: Ninety day departure from average precipitation (in inches) through 700 am CDT on 07/17/2018.
 

It was also a dry ninety day period from April 19th through July 17th, especially in the western half of Arkansas. Rainfall was 60 percent of average or less at El Dorado (Union County), Harrison (Boone County), Texarkana (Miller County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation from April 19 - July 17, 2018
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 10.84 15.11 -4.27 72%
Harrison (NC AR) 7.57 12.58 -5.01 60%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 11.34 12.72 -1.38 89%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 8.34 13.50 -5.16 62%
Little Rock (C AR) 8.73 12.57 -3.84 69%
West Memphis (EC AR) 7.57 13.83 -6.26 55%
Texarkana (SW AR) 6.14 13.38 -7.24 46%
El Dorado (SC AR) 6.51 13.77 -7.26 47%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 7.95 12.77 -4.82 62%

 

For the year, all was positive through April. Rainfall was above to well above normal statewide, including a surplus of more than a foot of liquid at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). A switch was thrown in May, and the picture was far more negative. Yearly precipitation excesses have turned into shortages in parts of the region.

 

Rainfall Departures From Average in 2018 (Through July 17)
Site 1/1 to 4/30 5/1 to 7/17 1/1 to 7/17
Fayetteville (NW AR) +2.39 -3.41 -1.02
Harrison (NC AR) +4.00 -4.95 -0.95
Jonesboro (NE AR) +9.44 -2.18 +7.26
Fort Smith (WC AR) +2.24 -4.50 -2.26
Little Rock (C AR) +9.05 -3.29 +5.76
West Memphis (EC AR) +4.88 -6.52 -1.64
Texarkana (SW AR) +7.69 -6.72 +0.97
El Dorado (SC AR) +8.03 -7.22 +0.81
Pine Bluff (SE AR) +13.49 -4.78 +8.71

 

Departure from average precipitation in 2017.
In the picture: Departure from average precipitation in 2017.
 

Some of the areas drying out in 2018 had large rain deficits in 2017. Parts of the west were short on water by at least eight inches last year.

 

Precipitation in 2017
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 51.22 48.51 +2.71 106%
Harrison (NC AR) 40.89 44.14 -3.25 93%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 46.07 48.10 -2.03 96%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 47.96 45.46 +2.50 105%
Little Rock (C AR) 47.27 49.75 -2.48 95%
West Memphis (EC AR) 46.64 52.23 -5.59 89%
Texarkana (SW AR) 50.03 49.65 +0.38 101%
El Dorado (SC AR) 46.70 52.92 -6.22 88%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 50.80 51.15 -0.35 99%

 

Data from the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) shows a wet pattern over the southwest United States and in parts of the southeast from August through October, 2018. Drier conditions are noted in the Pacific Northwest, and also in the middle of the country (especially early in the period). The outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) concurs with NMME.
NMME Aug/Sep/Oct Outlook   |  CPC Aug/Sep/Oct Outlook
In the pictures: Data from the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) shows a wet pattern over the southwest United States and in parts of the southeast from August through October, 2018. Drier conditions are noted in the Pacific Northwest, and also in the middle of the country (especially early in the period). The outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) concurs with NMME.
 

Moving forward (through early fall), some drought relief is expected in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico given an active summer monsoon season. Over the middle of the country (including Arkansas), long range data is showing a lack of rain in August/September. This is due to a persistent ridge of high pressure, with hot/dry conditions common under the high.

 

Drought outlook through October, 2018.
In the picture: Drought outlook through October, 2018.
 

If the data is correct, drought conditions could become more widespread and worsen locally. It appears there will be wet periods, mainly when the high temporarily wobbles away (to the west or east). Also, a more active/rainy pattern may set up by October. The wildcard will be the tropics, with an outside chance of widespread heavy rain if tropical systems manage to develop in the Gulf of Mexico and move inland. 

 

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.

 

From 2012 through 2016, there were several droughts. The northwest and southwest fared the worst, with close to two foot rainfall deficits at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Texarkana (Miller County).

 

Precipitation Statistics (2012-2016)
Site 2016 +/- 2015 +/- 2014 +/- 2013 +/- 2012 +/- Total +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 33.37 -15.14 65.71 +17.20 39.08 -9.43 46.63 -1.88 34.29 -14.22 -23.47
Harrison (NC AR) 35.41 -8.73 62.64 +18.50 41.20 -2.94 45.26 +1.12 29.53 -14.61 -6.66
Jonesboro (NE AR) 52.56 +4.46 64.53 +16.43 44.15 -3.95 52.42 +4.32 33.57 -14.53 +6.73
Fort Smith (WC AR) 31.18 -14.28 73.93 +28.47 42.14 -3.32 47.05 +1.59 33.94 -11.52 +0.94
Little Rock (C AR) 56.12 +6.37 61.23 +11.48 48.13 -1.62 52.78 +3.03 42.25 -7.50 +11.76
West Memphis (EC AR) 53.02 +0.79 49.04 -3.19 49.08 -3.15 54.47 +2.24 39.08 -13.15 -16.46
Texarkana (SW AR) 49.33 -0.32 63.54 +13.89 35.24 -14.41 45.34 -4.31 32.07 -17.58 -22.73
El Dorado (SC AR) 61.64 +8.72 59.94 +7.02 41.03 -11.89 47.49 -5.43 44.41 -8.51 -10.09
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 54.38 +3.23 51.31 +0.16 41.41 -9.74 52.66 +1.51 45.69 -5.46 -10.30

 

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