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January, 2018 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
There was a little of everything in January, including heavy snow, a few tornadoes, and record cold air. However, heavy to excessive rain did not happen, and drought conditions remained.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were several record low temperatures tied or broken in mid-January. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 6 (01/16), 4T (01/17)
El Dorado 10 (01/16), 3 (01/17)
Jacksonville 8 (01/18)
Monticello 10T (01/16)
Pine Bluff 11T (01/16), 5T (01/17)
Russellville 5 (01/17)
Stuttgart 9 (01/16), 6 (01/17), 12 (01/18)
Texarkana 6 (01/17)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

 Very Cold at Times/Snow and Severe Weather/Drier Than Usual
 
In the picture: It was the second coldest New Year's Day at Little Rock (Pulaski County).
 

Very cold air spilled into Arkansas to begin 2018. At Little Rock (Pulaski County), the low temperature on the 1st was 10 degrees. This was the second coldest minimum on New Year's Day since 1879. The high only reached 25 degrees, which came in 2nd for the coldest daily maximum. It was nowhere close to record mark of 18 degrees in 1928.

Arctic high pressure was on the doorstep to the north. The barometer at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) topped out at 30.90 inches. This was a record high sea level pressure for January at the site.  

 

Subfreezing temperatures ended in much of Arkansas on 01/03/2018 after hanging around for more than three days at many locations.
In the picture: Subfreezing temperatures ended in much of Arkansas on 01/03/2018 after hanging around for more than three days at many locations.
 

By the 3rd, there was wall to wall sunshine and it actually warmed up a bit. Subfreezing conditions ended at most locations, with high temperatures in the 30s and 40s. It stayed at or below freezing at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Harrison (Boone County).

 

The satellite showed a strengthening storm system ("L") and a swath of clouds/moisture at 830 pm CST on 01/03/2018. The system was ready to head northward along the Atlantic Coast to bring wintry precipitation and wind.
In the picture: The satellite showed a strengthening storm system ("L") and a swath of clouds/moisture at 830 pm CST on 01/03/2018. The system was ready to head northward along the Atlantic Coast to bring wintry precipitation and wind.
 

While the cold was losing its grip in Arkansas, a rare winter winter episode was unfolding across the southeast states. Light snow fell at Tallahassee, FL on the 3rd. It was the first measurable snow locally since 1989. Interstate 10 was shut down on the north side of town. Parts of northern Florida and southeast Georgia got more than a quarter inch of freezing rain/ice. At Charleston, SC, just over 5 inches of snow piled up, making it a Top 3 one-day snow event locally. 

 

Forecast maps showed widespread rain followed by colder air and mixed precipitation in Arkansas on January 11-12, 2018.
Pattern at 600 pm CST (01/11)  |  Pattern at 1200 am CST (01/12)
Pattern at 600 am CST (01/12)  |  Pattern at 1200 pm CST (01/12)
Pattern at 600 pm CST (01/12)
In the pictures: Forecast maps showed widespread rain followed by colder air and mixed precipitation in Arkansas on January 11-12, 2018.
 

A week later (January 11th), a new winter storm was brewing over the middle of the county. The storm system responsible for the impending event was preceded by mild air and moisture, with much colder air on its heels. Here at home, it was iffy that cold and liquid would come together in time for a lot of snow and ice. This did not look like a big deal.

 

Roads were icy in places across southern and eastern Arkansas at 800 am CST on 01/12/2018. The image is courtesy of IDriveArkansas.
In the picture: Roads were icy in places across southern and eastern Arkansas at 800 am CST on 01/12/2018. The image is courtesy of IDriveArkansas.
 

As temperatures dropped early on the 12th, there was a period of freezing rain from Little Rock (Pulaski County) eastward, and sleet and some light snow thereafter before moisture exited.

Overall, there was generally less than a tenth of an inch of glaze in places, and under a half inch of snow and sleet. Some spots got higher amounts, including Blytheville (Mississippi County) and DeWitt (Arkansas County) with an inch of snow/ice, and Clarendon (Monroe County) with 0.8 inch of snow/ice.  

There were icy spots on roads in the east, especially toward the Mississippi River. Accidents were reported along Interstates 40 and 55, with both highways temporarily shut down.

 

In the picture: Heavy to excessive rain prompted a Flash Flood Warning northwest of Los Angeles, CA on 01/09/2018. The warning included an area where a huge wildfire occurred in December, 2017.
 

Before the system made it to Arkansas, it caused devastation in southern California. After a huge fire (at least 270,000 acres) raged to the northwest of Los Angeles, CA in early December, 2017, heavy rain hit on January 8th/9th. Where fire destroyed vegetation, slopes were vulnerable to mudslides. Three to more than five inches of rain in twenty four hours produced rivers of mud and rocks. Dozens of homes were destroyed. At least 18 people were killed.

 

Light snow was accumulating before sunrise near Jasper (Newton County) on 01/14/2018. The photo is courtesy of Erin White via Facebook.
In the picture: Light snow was accumulating before sunrise near Jasper (Newton County) on 01/14/2018. The photo is courtesy of Erin White via Facebook. Click to enlarge.
Light snow covered roads around Clinton (Van Buren County) on 01/14/2018. The photo is courtesy of Kristi Williams Morris via Facebook.
In the picture: Light snow covered roads around Clinton (Van Buren County) on 01/14/2018. The photo is courtesy of Kristi Williams Morris via Facebook. Click to enlarge.
 

A persistent northwest flow out of Canada continued across much of the country east of the Rockies heading into the middle of the month. Not only was it cold, there were chances of snow as storm systems rode the flow toward the region from the Plains. One such system approached northern sections of the state on the 14th.

The system was weak and was surrounded by limited moisture. There was enough moisture for some light snow and half inch to inch accumulations in about the northern two to three rows of counties. Closer to the Missouri border, one to three inches of snow was reported from Harrison (Boone County) to Mountain Home (Baxter County) and Salem (Fulton County). At Omaha (Boone County), 3 to 4 inches of snow was measured.

A burst of snow resulted in less than an inch of powder east of Clarksville near Lamar (both in Johnson County). It was enough to create chaos on Interstate 40, with the westbound lane blocked due to multiple accidents.

 

Snowfall on January 14-16, 2018.
In the picture: Snowfall on January 14-16, 2018.
 

The system on the 14th was followed closely by a stronger system and cold front the next day. Ahead of the front, temperatures in the north topped out in the mid 30s to lower 40s early on the 15th. The mercury dropped from there, and another round of snow followed. Event total snowfall accumulations on the 14th/15th reached 8.0 inches at Omaha (Boone County) and 7.0 inches at Yellville (Marion County).

Farther south, it was mild on the 15th with readings in the 40s and 50s. The high at El Dorado (Union County) was 58 degrees, with 57 degrees at Monticello (Drew County), and 54 degrees at Mount Ida (Montgomery County). During the nighttime hours and into the 16th, it turned sharply colder in central and southern sections of the state. Models showed moisture building over areas along and south of Interstate 40, and snow was expected to become heavy in places.

Six inches of flakes were measured at Camden (Ouachita County) and Palestine (St. Francis County), with five inches at England (Lonoke County), Redfield (Jefferson County), and Sheridan (Grant County), and four inches at Aubrey (Lee County), Blytheville (Mississippi County), Kingsland (Cleveland County), and Roe (Monroe County).

 

Snow Reports (January 14-16, 2018)
Site Amount (Inches)
Omaha (Boone Co) 8.5
Yellville (Marion Co) 7.0
Camden (Ouachita Co) 6.0
Gamaliel (Baxter Co) 6.0
Lead Hill (Boone Co) 6.0
Palestine (St. Francis Co) 6.0
England (Lonoke Co) 5.0
Redfield (Jefferson Co) 5.0
Sheridan (Grant Co) 5.0

 

Wind chill index values were below zero across the northern half of Arkansas at 700 am CST on 01/16/2018.
In the picture: Wind chill index values were below zero across the northern half of Arkansas at 700 am CST on 01/16/2018.
 

It was brutally cold in the north to start off the 16th. The low at Compton (Newton County) and Winslow (Washington County) was 2 below zero. It was zero at Harrison (Boone County), Highfill (Benton County), and Mountain Home (Baxter County). Northwest winds at 10 to 15 mph created wind chill index values between 10 and 20 below zero.

 

It was the coldest morning in years at a number of sites across Arkansas on 01/17/2018.
In the picture: It was the coldest morning in years at a number of sites across Arkansas on 01/17/2018.
 

It was even colder by dawn on the 17th, with single digits in much of Arkansas. At 600 am CST, the thermometer showed 7 degrees at North Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was the coldest morning locally since February 4, 1996.

Lead Hill (Boone County) had a low of 7 below zero, with 5 below zero reported at Mammoth Spring (Fulton County)! The 1 below zero readings at Flippin (Marion County) and Mena (Polk County) were the coldest since December, 1989.

 

Big Time Usage of Electricity

As temperatures bottomed out at unusually low levels (the lowest in almost thirty years in parts of Arkansas), energy usage soared. On the 17th, one company (in northern sections of the state) announced that the demand for electricity was at an all-time record peak. Another company (serving at least 700,000 customers) asked for people to conserve power, with outages possible if demand outpaced supply.

 

There were a variety of weather headlines in the middle of the country at 600 pm CST on 01/21/2018.
In the picture: There were a variety of weather headlines in the middle of the country at 600 pm CST on 01/21/2018.
 

Yet another storm system promised a variety of weather conditions across the central U.S. on January 21st and into the 22nd. Blizzard conditions were in the forecast from eastern Colorado to southern Minnesota. This was north of the track of the system. Farther south, it was much too mild for snow, with thunderstorms (some severe) expected. Temperatures across Arkansas at 300 pm were mostly in the 60s, with a few 70s in the south and west.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a complex scenario between Damascus and Wooster (both in Faulkner County) at 1250 am CST on 01/22/2018.  A reflectivity image showed a hook, with bowing south of the hook. A storm relative velocity image indicated rotation associated with the hook, and strong/damaging winds with the bowing.
Reflectivity at 1250 am CST (01/22)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 1250 am CST (01/22)
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a complex scenario between Damascus and Wooster (both in Faulkner County) at 1250 am CST on 01/22/2018.  A reflectivity image showed a hook, with bowing south of the hook. A storm relative velocity image indicated rotation associated with the hook, and strong/damaging winds with the bowing.
 

Showers and storms became numerous across the western counties during the evening of the 21st. Precipitation swept to the east overnight, and reached the Mississippi River before dawn on the 22nd.  

Only a handful of storms became severe. Around 700 pm CST on the 21st, a barn was destroyed near Huntington (Sebastian County). There was also damage to a water plant locally. Forty minutes later, trees were snapped and power lines were downed at Cecil (Franklin County). Just before 1000 pm CST, sheds were destroyed and huge trees were pushed over about five miles northwest of Clarksville (Johnson County). At roughly the same time, minor structural damage was reported and two semi trailers were flipped not far from Foreman (Little River County). At 1110 pm CST, a carport was heavily damaged close to Caddo Gap (Montgomery County). Just before 100 am CST on the 22nd, the roof of a church was removed, and roofs of several buildings were torn up a couple of miles east of Springhill (Faulkner County). By 230 am CST, a gas station awning was dismantled at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County).

 

 

The roof on this house was torn up by a weak tornado (rated EF1) about 2.7 miles east of Springhill (Faulkner County) early on 01/22/2018.
In the picture: The roof on this house was torn up by a weak tornado (rated EF1) about 2.7 miles east of Springhill (Faulkner County) early on 01/22/2018. Click to enlarge.
In the same area as the house, this building also had some roof damage, with debris decorating a nearby tree.
In the picture: In the same area as the house, this building also had some roof damage, with debris decorating a nearby tree. Click to enlarge.
 

After surveys by the National Weather Service, it was determined that four weak tornadoes (all rated EF1) were responsible for the damage at Huntington (Sebastian County), Cecil (Franklin County), Foreman (Little River County), and east of Springhill (Faulkner County). These were the first tornadoes of 2018 in Arkansas. The remainder of the damage was caused by 60 to 80+ mph straight-line winds.

 

 

Interestingly, even with several winter and severe weather episodes, precipitation for the month was a half inch to an inch and a half below average (50 to 90 percent of normal) at most locations. The southeast was the driest, with amounts more than two inches subpar (less than 50 percent of normal).

 

Precipitation in January, 2018
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.71 2.84 -1.13 60%
Harrison (NC AR) 2.63 2.56 +0.07 103%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.51 3.43 -0.92 73%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 2.23 2.81 -0.58 79%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.22 3.55 -1.33 63%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.06 4.18 -1.12 73%
Texarkana (SW AR) 2.39 3.40 -1.01 70%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.07 4.30 -1.23 71%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.81 3.76 -0.95 75%

 

Given a somewhat dry month, drought conditions continued over much of the state. The worst conditions were in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains of the north and west to finish January.

 

Links of Interest
December 31, 2017 - January 3, 2018 (very cold/light ice)
January 11-12, 2018 (light wintry precipitation)
January 14-17, 2018 (snow/becoming very cold)
January 21-22, 2018 (isolated severe storms)

 

Additional January Details
 
For more details about January, 2018...go to the "Temperatures and Precipitation" section below.

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
While temperatures fluctuated wildly in January, overall readings were below average. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. January, 2018 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

January, 2018 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was below average across Arkansas. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

To right, a look at precipitation across the state. January, 2018 Precipitation in Arkansas

 

For a look at actual temperatures and precipitation in Arkansas as measured by the cooperative observer network, click here.