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Monthly Storm Reports and Storm Data
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Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
January, 2020 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
It felt like spring to start January, and this led to an outbreak of severe weather and areas of heavy rain on the 10th/11th. It turned colder later in the month, and there was a taste of winter at times. There was light icing toward the Missouri border on the 17th, and an ice storm in the Ozark Mountains on the 22nd/23rd.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were a few record high temperatures tied or broken in January, especially late during the middle of the month. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Fort Smith 72T (01/15)
Jacksonville 68 (01/15)
North Little Rock 66 (01/15)
Stuttgart 69 (01/15), 64 (01/18)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

 A Warm Start With An Outbreak of Severe Storms/A Taste of Winter to End
 
There was widespread wind damage, some large hail, and isolated tornadoes from the southern Plains to the mid-Atlantic states in the forty eight hour period ending at 600 am CST on 01/12/2020. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: There was widespread wind damage, some large hail, and isolated tornadoes from the southern Plains to the mid-Atlantic states in the forty eight hour period ending at 600 am CST on 01/12/2020. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

The month started off with a bang on the 10th. It felt like spring in Arkansas, with high temperatures in the 60s to lower 70s. As the day began, a powerful storm system was looming to the west in New Mexico. Moisture levels were on the rise ahead of the system. It was a perfect setup for severe weather and flash flooding.

By late afternoon and into the overnight hours/early on the 11th, a massive damaging wind episode unfolded. Wind gusts from 60 to 90 mph pounded parts of the state. Trees and/or power lines were downed at Yellville (Marion County), Henderson (Baxter County), Elizabeth (Fulton County), Melbourne (Izard County), Leslie (Searcy County), a few miles west of Arkadelphia (Clark County), Malvern (Hot Spring County), Judsonia (White County), Fordyce (Dallas County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), Joiner (Mississippi County), Monticello (Drew County), St. Charles (Arkansas County), and Watson (Desha County). Some fallen trees landed on homes. Seven tractor trailers were blown over on Interstate 40 just east of Wheatley (St. Francis County). Wind recording equipment measured a 74 mph gust at Fargo (Monroe County), and a 71 mph gust at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (Drew County).

 

A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts and exhibiting features such as a hook echo and strong rotation) was south of Subiaco (Logan County) at 740 pm CST on 01/10/2020. The supercell preceded a line of storms building into western Arkansas from Oklahoma.
Reflectivity at 740 pm CST (01/10)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 740 pm CST (01/10)
More About Rotation
In the pictures: A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts and exhibiting features such as a hook echo and strong rotation) was south of Subiaco (Logan County) at 740 pm CST on 01/10/2020. The supercell preceded a line of storms building into western Arkansas from Oklahoma. 
 

There were also isolated tornadoes. At 740 pm CST on the 10th, a tornado (rated EF2) was spawned southwest of Midway (Logan County). The tornado cut close to a fourteen mile path before dissipating northeast of Scranton (Logan County).

 

Link of Interest
Video of Tornado Damage in Logan County (courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter)

 

Several tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) damaged or destroyed structures north and east of Midway and Scranton (both in Logan County), near Seaton (Lonoke County), and around Jerome (Drew County) from the evening of 01/10/2020 through the wee hours of the next morning.
Home and Surroundings in Disarray North of Midway (Logan County)
Inside of Home Missing Roof North of Midway (Logan County)
Outbuildings Destroyed East of Scranton (Logan County)
Storage Shed Thrown Into Trees and Destroyed Near Seaton (Lonoke County)
Silo Mangled Near Jerome (Drew County)
In the pictures: Several tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) damaged or destroyed structures north and east of Midway and Scranton (both in Logan County), near Seaton (Lonoke County), and around Jerome (Drew County) from the evening of 01/10/2020 through the wee hours of the next morning.
 

Nine other mostly weak tornadoes (eight rated EF1/one rated EF2) were confirmed across the state through the wee hours of the 11th. Two of these tornadoes were in the Little Rock County Warning Area near Seaton (Lonoke County) and Jerome (Drew County). The former tornado blew in a grain bin and tossed a shed into nearby trees. The latter tornado mangled a silo. Trees were uprooted or snapped, and utility poles were taken out.

 

Link of Interest
Damage Survey Information

 

Eleven tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) were counted across Arkansas on January 10-11, 2020.
In the picture: Eleven tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) were counted across Arkansas on January 10-11, 2020.
 

Similar damage was noted with a tornado in the Tulsa County Warning Area three to four miles east-southeast of Cecil (Franklin County). Seven tornadoes were counted in the Jackson County Warning Area from West Crossett to Hamburg and Montrose (all in Ashley County) eastward to Lake Village (Chicot County) and on into western Mississippi. Damage was a little more substantial, with a handful of mobile homes dismantled, roofs torn up on homes and a couple of churches, and a metal high tension electric line yanked to the ground. At least two injuries were reported.

 

Giant Pine Tree in Arkansas Gone

The Morris Pine was around for at least three centuries in the Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest south of Hamburg (Ashley County). This was regarded as one of the largest and oldest pine trees in Arkansas. Sadly, the tree did not make it through the storm early on the 11th. A tornado (rated EF1) was the culprit.

 

Outside of the state, a tornado (rated EF1) downed a tree onto a mobile home southwest of Nacogdoches, TX. One person was killed. A long track tornado (rated EF2/41 miles) went from near Bossier City, LA to Arcadia, LA, and mowed down a considerable number of trees and structures. Two more fatalities occurred in a mobile home. At Oil City, LA, a tree fell on a home and killed one of the occupants. To the east, three people lost their lives due to a tornado (rated EF2) in Carrollton, AL. From east Texas to the Carolinas and Virginia, there were over 1,000 reports of wind damage!

 

In the picture: There was an enhanced to moderate risk of severe weather in the twenty four hour period ending at 600 am CST on 01/11/2020. The forecast is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

Preceding the event, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK called for a moderate risk of severe weather over the southern half of Arkansas, and an enhanced risk farther north.

 

 

When risk levels are this high (which is rare), an outbreak of severe storms is usually the result. The National Weather Service in Little Rock (Pulaski County) tried to draw attention to the magnitude of the situation by using wording such as "hurricane force winds" and "this is serious" in its messaging to the public.

 

A Rare Moderate Risk

On January 9th, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman OK had a moderate risk of severe weather in far southwest Arkansas, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana on the 10th (a Day 2 forecast). This was only the fourth time a Day 2 moderate risk was issued in January, and the first time in six years. The moderate risk area was expanded markedly the next day (a Day 1 forecast). This information is from Dr. Patrick Marsh of SPC (via Twitter).

 

Twenty four hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 01/11/2020. Amounts exceeded four inches in places.
Rain in Arkansas  |  Rain Across the Region
Alternate Rain in Arkansas Based on Observer Reports
In the pictures: Twenty four hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 01/11/2020. Amounts exceeded four inches in places.
 

In addition to the severe weather, there was torrential rain. More than four inches of precipitation dumped in spots. Twenty four hour totals through 600 am CST on the 11th included 5.00 inches at Batesville (Independence County), 4.30 inches at Bogg Springs (Polk County), 4.20 inches at Waldron (Scott County), 4.05 inches at Sparkman (Dallas County), 3.90 inches at Parks (Scott County) and Subiaco (Logan County), 3.83 inches at Cabot (Lonoke County), 3.78 inches at Booneville (Logan County), 3.75 inches at Big Fork (Polk County), 3.59 inches at Calamine (Sharp County), 3.52 inches at Pine Ridge (Montgomery County), 3.50 inches at Newport (Jackson County), and 3.46 inches at Little Rock (Pulaski County).

This was the big rain episode of the month, and was mostly responsible for above average amounts in January. In general, there was a surplus of precipitation by one to more than three inches at most locations.

 

Precipitation in January, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 5.50 2.84 +2.66 194%
Harrison (NC AR) 4.40 2.56 +1.84 172%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 6.40 3.43 +2.97 187%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 5.87 2.81 +3.06 209%
Little Rock (C AR) 6.84 3.55 +3.29 193%
West Memphis (EC AR) 6.13 4.18 +1.95 147%
Texarkana (SW AR) 5.29 3.40 +1.89 156%
El Dorado (SC AR) 6.58 4.30 +2.28 153%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 6.19 3.76 +2.43 165%

 

Due to the deluge, there were many reports of water over roads. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), at least fifteen rescues were performed after motorists drove into high water. Cars were stranded in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Rogers (Benton County). Streets were impassible in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Highway 80 between Hon and Waldron (both in Scott County) was closed due to flooding. The same happened along Highway 115 near Jesup (Lawrence County), along Highways 62 and 175 at Cherokee Village (Sharp County), along Highway 224 south of Swifton (Jackson County), along Highway 13 north of McRae (White County), and along Highways 54 and 83 south of Gould (Lincoln County). Lots of county roads were flooded and/or washed out.

 

There was minor flooding along the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers on 01/13/2020.
In the picture: There was minor flooding along the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers on 01/13/2020.
 

Because vegetation was dormant and consuming little ground water, runoff rates were high and rivers responded by going up. Minor flooding resulted on a number of tributaries including the Black, Cache, Eleven Point, Fourche LaFave, Ouachita, Petit Jean, Spring, and White Rivers. The same was true on the Arkansas River west of Dardanelle (Yell County).

It felt nowhere close to January through the 16th. Average temperatures were more than ten degrees above average in places! The pattern was starting to change, with a cold front plowing through Arkansas from the north. Afternoon temperatures were in the 40s to lower 50s on the 16th, with mid 60s to mid 70s the day before.

 

Average Temperatures in January, 2020 (Through the 16th)
Site Avg Temp +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 45.2° +10.2°
Harrison (NC AR) 44.0° +8.0°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 47.6° +10.6°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 47.1° +8.1°
Little Rock (C AR) 48.1° +7.1°
West Memphis (EC AR) 49.9° +11.2°
Texarkana (SW AR) 51.8° +8.3°
El Dorado (SC AR) 52.3° +8.3°
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 50.5° +8.5°

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed light freezing rain over parts of northern Arkansas at 900 am CST on 01/17/2020. Temperatures were at or below 32 degrees F in places, including Harrison (Boone County) and Mountain Home (Baxter County).
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed light freezing rain over parts of northern Arkansas at 900 am CST on 01/17/2020. Temperatures were at or below 32 degrees F in places, including Harrison (Boone County) and Mountain Home (Baxter County).
 

During the early morning hours of the 17th, readings in parts of the Ozark Mountains of the north dipped to around freezing. By 400 am CST, it was 31 degrees at Harrison (Boone County), 32 degrees at Mountain Home (Baxter County), and 33 degrees at Rogers (Benton County). At the same time, a storm system approaching from the west spread moisture into areas north of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Areas of light freezing rain were noted toward the Missouri border.

 

In general, the forecast (on 01/16/2020) called for less than a tenth of an inch of ice/glaze across northern Arkansas through 600 pm CST on 01/17/2020. More significant ice (up to a half inch) was expected farther north and west.
In the picture: In general, the forecast (on 01/16/2020) called for less than a tenth of an inch of ice/glaze across northern Arkansas through 600 pm CST on 01/17/2020. More significant ice (up to a half inch) was expected farther north and west.
 

There was a thin coating of ice on trees and power lines, and a few bridges and overpasses. Roads were mainly wet, and travel was mostly unaffected. Ice was more substantial farther north and west from northern/western Oklahoma into southeast Kansas and Missouri. Accruals were a half inch or more in places.

 

In the picture: A fire truck overturned on an icy road in Kansas City, MO during the morning of 01/17/2020.
 

Spotty power outages were reported, including a brief blackout (30 minutes or so) at the Springfield-Branson National Airport about five miles northwest of Springfield, MO. There were numerous accidents as well, with motorists sliding off icy pavement. Sections of I-435 were closed at times in Kansas City, MO due to an overturned tractor trailer and hazardous driving conditions.

 

Arctic high pressure ("H") covered most areas east of the Mississippi River on 01/22//2020. The high pumped cold air into Arkansas. Meanwhile, a storm system ("L") was on the horizon in the southern Plains. The system spread moisture into the region, with precipitation beginning as a wintry mix in western sections of the state. Gradual warming led to mainly rain later in the day.
In the pictures: Arctic high pressure ("H") covered most areas east of the Mississippi River on 01/22//2020. The high pumped cold air into Arkansas. Meanwhile, a storm system ("L") was on the horizon in the southern Plains. The system spread moisture into the region, with precipitation beginning as a wintry mix in western sections of the state. Gradual warming led to mainly rain later in the day.
 

Back at home, another cold front visited from Canada on the 18th. A large dome of Arctic high pressure eventually settled over areas east of the Mississippi River. High temperatures by the 21st were only in the mid 30s to mid 40s (well below normal highs in the mid 40s to mid 50s).

As cold air became entrenched across the region, a storm system headed this way from the southern Plains. Ahead of the system, Gulf moisture was pulled northward into Oklahoma, and wintry precipitation developed.  

A band of light snow and sleet penetrated into western Arkansas toward dawn on the 22nd. There was a quick one to two inches of accumulation at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Van Buren (Crawford County), and a half inch to an inch at Bentonville (Benton County), Bogg Springs (Polk County), and Queen Wilhelmina State Park (Polk County). Precipitation struggled to make it into central sections of the state as drier air was encountered. There was nothing measurable at Little Rock (Pulaski County) until after 100 pm CST. By that time, frozen precipitation had turned into freezing rain and then rain.

 

Temperatures at 600 am and 1200 pm CST on 01/22/2020. Warming occurred during this six hour period, with a wintry mix becoming mostly rain.
Temperatures at 600 am CST (01/22)  |  Temperatures at 1200 pm CST (01/22)
In the picture: Temperatures at 600 am and 1200 pm CST on 01/22/2020. Warming occurred during this six hour period, with a wintry mix becoming mostly rain.
 

The transition from frozen to liquid happened as it warmed overhead and near the ground. At 600 am CST, observing sites reported temperatures at or below freezing. Readings mostly climbed above freezing by 1200 pm CST. After some patchy snow and ice on a few highways in the west to start the day, conditions improved by late morning. Most highways were clear through the afternoon. 

 

In the picture: Some snow accumulated on Mount Magazine (Logan County) on 01/22/2020 at an elevation of just over 2300 feet. The photo is courtesy of Jesse Hays via Twitter.
 

But all was not well in the higher elevations of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains of the north and west. A balloon launch from North Little Rock (Pulaski County) at 600 pm CST on the 22nd showed a layer of subfreezing air not far above the ground and extending to around 3000 feet.

 

North Little Rock (Pulaski County) at 600 pm CST on January 22, 2020
Elevation Temperature (deg F)
570 feet (Ground) 33°
2000 feet 27°
3000 feet 32°
4000 feet 33°
5000 feet 37°

 

An inversion (rising temperatures) existed farther aloft at 4000 and 5000 feet. Snow and sleet that fell through this layer tended to melt, and then froze in the subfreezing layer.

 

 

There was significant icing (a half inch or more in spots) in the higher elevations of northern and western Arkansas on 01/22/2020 and early the next morning.
In the picture: There was significant icing (a half inch or more in spots) in the higher elevations of northern and western Arkansas on 01/22/2020 and early the next morning.
 

During the evening of the 22nd, an ice storm was in progress. Photos showed some buildup on branches near Mountain Home (Baxter County), with at least a quarter of an inch of ice on exposed objects a few miles southwest of West Fork (Washington County). A check of temperatures at a few mountain locations at 400 am CST on the 23rd revealed a reading of 29 degrees at Jasper (Newton County), and 31 degrees at Alco (Stone County) and Compton (Newton County).

 

In the video: Parts of the Ozark Mountains experienced an ice storm as noted at Ozone (Johnson County) early on 01/23/2020. The video is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

In the end, more than a half inch of ice accrued on exposed objects in places such as Botkinburg (Van Buren County), Deer (Newton County), Moreland (Pope County), Mount Magazine (Logan County), Ozone (Johnson County), and Witts Spring (Searcy County). Ice was the most significant at elevations above 1500 feet. The weight of the ice downed numerous downed trees and caused hundreds of power outages.

 

Links of Interest
January 10-11, 2020 (severe storms/heavy rain)
January 17, 2020 (light icing)
January 22-24, 2020 (wintry mix)

 

Additional January Details
 
For more details about January, 2020...go to the "Temperatures and Precipitation" section below.

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
Temperatures were above average given a very warm start to January. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. January, 2020 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

January, 2020 Precipitation in North Little Rock Overall, precipitation was above to well above normal across Arkansas. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

To right, a look at precipitation across the state. January, 2020 Precipitation in Arkansas

 

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