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 drought (D1) in far northwest Arkansas on 11/27/2018.

There was a moderate drought (D1) in extreme northwest Arkansas to end November. Next Page Update: January 4

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 93.02%
D0-D4 6.98%
D1-D4 0.90%
D2-D4 0%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: There was a moderate drought (D1) in far northwest Arkansas on 11/27/2018.
 
As of December 2nd, there was a low wildfire and no burn bans in Arkansas.
 
 
Drought conditions as of 11/27/2018.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 11/27/2018.
 

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 in much of the western United States.

 

Precipitation and departure from average precipitation in November, 2018.
Precipitation (Nov, 2018)  |  Departure From Average Precipitation (Nov, 2018)
In the picture: Precipitation and departure from average precipitation in November, 2018.
 

For the first month since August, it was not overly wet. Rain was at or below average at most locations, and was more than an inch subpar in the northwest at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County).

 

Precipitation in November, 2018
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 2.72 4.23 -1.51 64%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.78 4.23 -0.45 89%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.38 4.90 -0.52 89%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.67 4.44 -2.77 38%
Little Rock (C AR) 4.58 5.28 -0.70 87%
West Memphis (EC AR) 4.33 4.95 -0.62 87%
Texarkana (SW AR) 5.52 4.82 +0.70 115%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.52 4.89 -0.37 92%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 5.06 4.83 +0.23 105%

 

Three month (August through October, 2018) departure from average precipitation.
In the picture: Three month (August through October, 2018) departure from average precipitation.
 

From August through October, rain was more than double the average at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). At these locations (in west central, central, and northeast Arkansas), there was a surplus of liquid by over ten inches. So much rain made harvesting difficult to impossible in eastern sections of the state given muddy fields.

 

Precipitation from August 1 - October 31, 2018
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 11.48 12.39 -0.91 93%
Harrison (NC AR) 12.69 11.33 +1.36 112%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 21.93 9.86 +12.07 222%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 21.98 10.96 +11.02 201%
Little Rock (C AR) 21.82 10.68 +11.14 204%
West Memphis (EC AR) 13.07 10.11 +2.96 129%
Texarkana (SW AR) 12.97 11.27 +1.70 115%
El Dorado (SC AR) 12.10 11.41 +0.69 106%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 24.85 10.17 +14.68 244%

 

For the year (through October), all was positive through April. There was plenty of rain statewide, including a record wet February. A switch was thrown in May, and the picture was far more negative through July. Yearly precipitation excesses turned into shortages in parts of the region. Cloudbursts returned in August, and kept on coming for three monts.

 

Rainfall Departures From Average in 2018 (Through October 31)
Site 1/1 to 4/30 5/1 to 7/31 8/1 to 10/31 1/1 to 10/31
Fayetteville (NW AR) +2.39 -2.27 -0.91 -0.79
Harrison (NC AR) +4.00 -2.98 +1.36 +2.38
Jonesboro (NE AR) +9.44 -1.38 +12.07 +20.13
Fort Smith (WC AR) +2.24 -4.00 +11.02 +9.26
Little Rock (C AR) +9.05 -3.18 +11.14 +17.01
West Memphis (EC AR) +4.88 -5.14 +2.96 +2.70
Texarkana (SW AR) +7.69 -6.88 +1.70 +2.51
El Dorado (SC AR) +8.03 -8.41 +0.69 +0.31
Pine Bluff (SE AR) +13.49 -4.60 +14.68 +23.57

 

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

When there was drought in 2018 (mainly during the summer), it was the most serious in the southwest (widespread D2 conditions on July 24th). In 2017, parts of the southwest were short on water by at least eight inches.

 

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%

 

Drought outlook through January, 2019.
In the picture: Drought outlook through January, 2019.
 

Looking ahead, there will be a weak to moderate El Niño (warmer than normal water along the equator in the Pacific Ocean) through the first half of 2019. In the late fall and winter, this often results in better chances of precipitation along the Gulf Coast. At times, incoming storm systems will pull some of this moisture into Arkansas, and this should keep drought from becoming a huge issue locally. Northern sections of the state (farthest away from the moisture) are the most vulnerable to drought if it develops/worsens.

 

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