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Very Hot on July 26-31, 2021
 
A large area of high pressure ("H") began building over Arkansas from the central Plains on 07/27/2021. Scattered thunderstorms were gradually shoved toward the Gulf Coast, leaving behind hot and mostly dry conditions for the remainder of the month.
In the picture: A large area of high pressure ("H") began building over Arkansas from the central Plains on 07/27/2021. Scattered thunderstorms were gradually shoved toward the Gulf Coast, leaving behind hot and mostly dry conditions for the remainder of the month.
 

The hottest air of the year was on its way to Arkansas to end July. A large area of high pressure built toward the region from the central Plains, and promised above average temperatures and mostly dry conditions.

 

In the video: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms across Arkansas during the afternoon of 07/26/2021.
 

Preceding the arrival of the high, showers and thunderstorms were hit and miss on the 26th. By the 27th, precipitation was confined to mainly southern and western sections of the state. In the days to follow, rain was shoved toward the Gulf Coast.

 

Dangerous heat index values (above 105 degrees F) and wet bulb globe temperatures (above 90 degrees F) were noted at Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 07/26/2021.
In the picture: Dangerous heat index values (above 105 degrees F) and wet bulb globe temperatures (above 90 degrees F) were noted at Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 07/26/2021.
 

On the 26th/27th, afternoon temperatures were in the 90s at most locations across the state. The mercury hit 99 degrees at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the 26th, with the same reading at Fort Smith on the 27th. Heat index values generally maxed out between 100 and 110 degrees, and between 95 and 100 degrees in parts of the northwest (Ozark Mountains). At Little Rock (Pulaski County), the highest heat index was 108 degrees both days, with a wet bulb globe temperature in the lower 90s (which is considered dangerous).

 

Heat index values ranged from 100 to 110 degrees across much of Arkansas at 500 pm CDT on 07/27/2021. Readings were not as extreme in the northwest (Ozark Mountains) and southwest (due to scattered thunderstorms/rain cooled air).
In the picture: Heat index values ranged from 100 to 110 degrees across much of Arkansas at 500 pm CDT on 07/27/2021. Readings were not as extreme in the northwest (Ozark Mountains) and southwest (due to scattered thunderstorms/rain cooled air).
 

The only relief came in the form of spotty downpours. On the 27th, the heat index at De Queen (Sevier County) dropped from 108 degrees at 300 pm CDT to less than 85 degrees at 500 pm CDT.

 

This model showed high values of vertically integrated smoke (in mg/m²) flowing from the Pacific Coast toward the middle of the country in the forty eight hour period ending at 100 pm CDT on 07/29/2021.
Smoke at 100 pm CDT (07/27)  |  Smoke at 100 am CDT (07/28)
Smoke at 100 pm CDT (07/28)  |  Smoke at 100 am CDT (07/29)
Smoke at 100 pm CDT (07/29)  |  Loop
In the pictures: This model showed high values of vertically integrated smoke (in mg/m²) flowing from the Pacific Coast toward the middle of the country in the forty eight hour period ending at 100 pm CDT on 07/29/2021.
 

Hazy conditions were noted by the 28th/29th as smoke from western wildfires followed the flow aloft (around the aforementioned area of high pressure) over Arkansas.

 

Temperatures make it to 100 degrees in six of ten years at Little Rock (Pulaski County), and failed to reach the century mark six years in a row from 1888 to 1893.
In the picture: Temperatures make it to 100 degrees in six of ten years at Little Rock (Pulaski County), and failed to reach the century mark six years in a row from 1888 to 1893.
 

In the final days of July, the conversation was focused on sites reaching 100 degrees. Ample rainfall and green vegetation tended to hold temperatures down (in the 90s), and made triple digits more difficult to realize.

 

Temperatures failed to reach 100 degrees for at least three years at half a dozen sites in Arkansas through 07/29/2021.
In the picture: Temperatures failed to reach 100 degrees for at least three years at half a dozen sites in Arkansas through 07/29/2021.
 

In fact, the temperature failed to get to 100 degrees for at least three years at a number of locations, including Little Rock (Pulaski County). Through the 29th, the highest temperature locally in 2021 was 96 degrees.

 

In the video: The satellite showed a mostly cloudless sky under high pressure from the central Plains into Arkansas during the afternoon and evening of 07/29/2021. Scattered thunderstorms popped up around the periphery of the high.
 

The environment certainly became more favorable for thermometers to climb to the century mark on the 30th/31st. There was little to no rain, fewer clouds, and slightly less humid air in place to allow the atmosphere to heat up more readily.

 

Widespread heat headlines were posted from the central Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley to the southeast United States at 315 pm CDT on 07/29/2021. Meanwhile, severe weather was occurring from Ohio to New Jersey.
In the picture: Widespread heat headlines were posted from the central Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley to the southeast United States at 315 pm CDT on 07/29/2021. Meanwhile, severe weather was occurring from Ohio to New Jersey.
 

On the 30th, the temperature at Jonesboro (Craighead County) made it to 100 degrees, which last happened on September 10, 2013. It was 101 degrees at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), snapping an almost six year streak without triple digit heat. Hot Springs (Garland County) also had 100 degrees for the first time since 2019.

Fort Smith (Sebastian County) joined the party on the 31st, with the temperature finally touching the century mark. It had not been this hot since August 12, 2019.

At Little Rock (Pulaski County), it was 99 degrees on the 30th/31st. While the length of time without a 100 degree day was 1112 days and counting, it was nowhere near the record of 2524 days (in the late 1800s).

 

There were numerous reports of mostly wind damage and isolated tornadoes in areas north and east of Arkansas in the ninety six hour (four day) period ending at 700 am CDT on 07/30/2021. On the 29th, at least half a dozen tornadoes were spawned from eastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey, with the strongest of these (rated EF3) ripping through Bensalem, PA and Trevose, PA.
In the picture: There were numerous reports of mostly wind damage and isolated tornadoes in areas north and east of Arkansas in the ninety six hour (four day) period ending at 700 am CDT on 07/30/2021. On the 29th, at least half a dozen tornadoes were spawned from eastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey, with the strongest of these (rated EF3) ripping through Bensalem, PA and Trevose, PA.
 

As the month ended, high pressure was set to relocate to the western States and away from Arkansas. This allowed a cold front to approach from the north. During the evening of the 31st, the front triggered scattered thunderstorms in northern sections of the state (toward the Missouri border). One storm became severe, and produced winds strong enough to destroy a metal carport and topple trees. This was far from the pounding (from damaging wind/isolated tornadoes) states to the north/east endured in recent days (like Wisconsin on the 28th/early on the 29th and eastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey on the 29th).

 

Feast or Famine in the Western United States

In late July, the Great Salt Lake in Utah was at its lowest level on record. Much of the state (99%) was experiencing extreme drought conditions (D3), with a little more than half the state in exceptional drought (D4).

The Bootleg Fire (one of the largest wildfires in the country) near Beatty, OR had torched more than 413,000 acres as of July 27th. It was the third largest wildfire in Oregon recorded history since 1900. More than 400 structures were destroyed by flames. On the 18th, pyrocumulus clouds (as high as 30,000 feet) on the eastern perimeter of the fire spawned a tornado, which was confirmed by the National Weather Service in Medford, OR.

At the same time drought and fire were going on in the west, it was a record monsoon season at Tucson, AZ. An impressive 8.06 inches of rain was measured in July (through the 30th), which was almost six inches above average for the month. Due to the rain, extreme drought (D3) coverage in Arizona dropped from 84% to 52% in a week (from the 20th to the 27th). Exceptional drought (D4) coverage went from 36% to 9%.

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on July 31, 2021 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were isolated reports of damaging winds in northern Arkansas on July 31st. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on July 31, 2021 (in red).