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Very Hot/Dry on September 19-21, 2022
 
A ridge of high pressure ("H") over the southern Plains was the dominant weather feature in Arkansas heading into late September, 2022.
In the picture: A ridge of high pressure ("H") over the southern Plains was the dominant weather feature in Arkansas heading into late September, 2022.
 

A ridge of high pressure became dominant in Arkansas by September 19th. Under the high, well above average temperatures were noted for several days, with afternoon readings reaching the century mark in places.

 

High temperatures on 09/21/2022. Readings ranged from the mid 90s to around 105 degrees at most locations in Arkansas.
In the picture: High temperatures on 09/21/2022. Readings ranged from the mid 90s to around 105 degrees at most locations in Arkansas.
 

The hottest day was the 21st. That is when the mercury hit 105 degrees at West Memphis (Crittenden County) and 102 degrees at Fort Smith (Sebastian County). It was the third straight day with triple digit heat at both sites. At Hot Springs (Garland County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Searcy (White County), the thermometer showed 101 degrees. Normal highs are in the lower to mid 80s in much of the state this time of year.

 

Top 25 years with the most 100 degree days at Little Rock (Pulaski County).
In the picture: Top 25 years with the most 100 degree days at Little Rock (Pulaski County).
 

At Little Rock (Pulaski County), it was the eighteenth 100 degree day of 2022, which was the most since 2011 (tied), and the ninth most all-time (since records began in 1874). The high mark for 100 degree days was 1980 with a staggering forty seven occurrences.

 

There were widespread moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions across much of Arkansas (except the south and northeast) on 09/20/2022.

Nothing fell from the sky, and the combination of heat and dryness led to a worsening drought. As of the 20th, there were widespread moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions across much of Arkansas (except the south and northeast).

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 28.02%
D0-D4 71.98%
D1-D4 51.17%
D2-D4 11.63%
D3-D4 0.01%
D4 0%
In the picture: There were widespread moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions across much of Arkansas (except the south and northeast) on 09/20/2022.
 

Through the 20th, the monthly rainfall total at Little Rock (Pulaski County) was only 0.34 inch, with 0.35 inch at Jonesboro (Craighead County) and 0.96 inch at Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Precipitation was one to two inches below average across the majority of the region.

 

Precipitation in September, 2022 (Through the 20th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.27 2.72 -1.45 47%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.16 2.72 -1.56 43%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 0.35 2.23 -1.88 16%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 0.96 2.71 -1.75 35%
Little Rock (C AR) 0.34 2.02 -1.68 17%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.32 2.04 -0.72 65%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.07 2.38 -1.31 45%
El Dorado (SC AR) 1.35 2.16 -0.81 62%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.39 2.07 -0.68 67%

 

In the picture: A cold front was set to push through Arkansas from the north on 09/22/2022, with cooler air to follow.
 

There was one more day of heat on the 22nd across the southern counties. A cold front pushed through the area from the north, and was followed by cooler air. Unfortunately, there was little to no rain along/ahead of the front.

At 300 pm CDT, the temperature at Mountain Home (Baxter County) was only 63 degrees, and it was 65 degrees at Harrison (Boone County) and Rogers (Benton County). Farther south, it was 100 degrees at De Queen (Sevier County), and 97 degrees at Camden (Ouachita County), Magnolia (Columbia County), and Texarkana (Miller County). 

 

In the video: Major Hurricane Fiona was churning in the Atlantic Ocean about 700 miles southwest of Bermuda on 09/21/2022.
 

Meanwhile, activity in the tropics was ramping up. Hurricane Fiona, a Category 4 storm with 130 mph sustained winds, was about 700 miles to the southwest of Bermuda on the 21st. The system tracked to the north/northeast and away from the United States.

 

In the video: Major Hurricane Ian caused extensive damage in Fort Myers Beach, FL on September 28, 2022. The video is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

Tropical Storm Gaston was well out in the Atlantic Ocean and moving away from us. Another area of concern in the Caribbean Sea became Ian and tracked into the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida as September ended.

 

Major Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, FL as a Category 4 storm (150 mph sustained wind) during the afternoon of September 28th. Homes and businesses were destroyed in Fort Myers, FL, and an historic pier was ripped apart in Naples, FL. At both locations, a wall of water (storm surge) up to twelve feet moved ashore and set records. Ten to more than twenty inches of rain dumped in a narrow swath from Sarasota, FL to Daytona Beach, FL. So much rain turned neighborhood streets into lakes, and residents had to rescued by boat (including areas around Orlando, FL). Some rivers rose to unprecedented levels, including the Peace River at Arcadia, FL (topping out three to four feet above the previous high mark set in 1912). At least one hundred people were killed (mostly drowned), and two to three million utility customers were without power.

As Ian moved inland through Florida, the system weakened to a tropical storm. However, once the Atlantic Ocean was reached, Ian regained hurricane status. Hurricane Ian barreled toward the South Carolina coast as a Category 1 storm (85 mph sustained wind) on the 30th.