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January, 2021 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
Snow was observed several times across Arkansas in January. There was not a lot of rain (generally drier than usual), and there was no severe weather when it felt like spring (such as on the 25th). Highlights outside the state included snow along the Gulf Coast, damaging wind in the northern Rockies and northern Plains, and a deadly tornado in Alabama.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were a couple of record high temperatures broken in January. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Jacksonville 74 (01/25)
North Little Rock 73 (01/25)

 

 Several Bouts of Snow/Warm at Times/Dry Overall
 
There was a lot going on in the middle of the country ahead of a storm system (ā€œLā€) in south Texas. There was ice/snow in cold air north/west of the system, severe weather in warm air along the Gulf Coast, and heavy rain in-between.
In the picture: There was a lot going on in the middle of the country ahead of a storm system (“L”) in south Texas. There was ice/snow in cold air north/west of the system, severe weather in warm air along the Gulf Coast, and heavy rain in-between.
 

January began with a complex storm system (producing snow, ice, heavy rain, and severe weather) departing the middle of the country, with a little leftover light snow in northern and western Arkansas on the 2nd. Most places got nothing to a dusting. There was up to a half inch of snow at Harrison (Boone County) and Queen Wilhelmina State Park (Polk County).

 

Snow was occurring in northern and western Arkansas at 800 am CST on 01/07/2021. There was widespread rain farther south and east. Temperatures were in the 30s to lower 40s.
In the picture: Snow was occurring in northern and western Arkansas at 800 am CST on 01/07/2021. There was widespread rain farther south and east. Temperatures were in the 30s to lower 40s.
 

There was more winter weather on the the 6th. A storm system approached the area from the southern Plains, and promised heavy rain in the southwest and snow in the north/west. Snow was reported in parts of Newton County during the late evening of the 6th. As of 800 am CST on the 7th, flakes continued flying in a fairly large area north and west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Elsewhere, this was mainly a rain event. Temperatures were in the 30s to lower 40s.

 

A fairly deep layer (at least 750 meters/2460 feet) of above freezing air melted snow into rain over central Arkansas at 900 am CST on 01/07/2020. Across the northern and western counties, this warm layer was very shallow, and snow made it to the ground.
In the picture: A fairly deep layer (at least 750 meters/2460 feet) of above freezing air melted snow into rain over central Arkansas at 900 am CST on 01/07/2020. Across the northern and western counties, this warm layer was very shallow, and snow made it to the ground.
 

Snow was confined to the north and west because that is where subfreezing air had the most depth. Frozen precipitation made it to the ground without melting. Away from the mountains, a 2,000 to 3,000 foot layer of above freezing air melted snow into rain.

 

Accumulating snow was noted in portions of the Ozark Mountains and in a few high elevation spots in the Ouachita Mountains (northern and western Arkansas) in the twenty four hour period ending at 600 pm CST on 01/07/2021.
In the picture: Accumulating snow was noted in portions of the Ozark Mountains and in a few high elevation spots in the Ouachita Mountains (northern and western Arkansas) in the twenty four hour period ending at 600 pm CST on 01/07/2021.
 

The sweet spot for heavy snow was in eastern Newton and southwest Searcy Counties. Lurton and Mount Judea (both in Newton County) had seven inches of snow, and Nail (Newton County) had six inches. Similar accumulations were reported at Witts Spring (Searcy County).

 

In the video: A blanket of snow (at least a half foot deep) covered the landscape around Lurton (Newton County) on 01/07/2021. The video is courtesy of Charles Peek via Twitter.
 

Five inches of snow piled up at Deer (Newton County) and Tilly (Pope County), with four inches at Compton (Newton County), northwest of Dennard (Van Buren County), and Mount Magazine (Logan County).

 

Link of Interest
Witts Spring (Searcy County) Snow Video (courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter)

 

Forty eight hour precipitation (liquid) in the period ending at 600 am CST on 01/07/2021.
In the picture: Forty eight hour precipitation (liquid) in the period ending at 600 am CST on 01/07/2021.
 

In southwest Arkansas, two to more than three inches of rain dumped at Arkadelphia (Clark County), De Queen (Sevier County), Fordyce (Dallas County), Hot Springs (Garland County), Lewisville (Lafayette County), Malvern (Hot Spring County), Mena (Polk County), Murfreesboro (Pike County), Nashville (Howard County), Pine Ridge (Montgomery County), and Texarkana (Miller County). Interestingly, less than a quarter inch was measured in the northeast at Blytheville (Mississippi County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and Newport (Jackson County). This was because of a constant feed of dry air transported by a strong/gusty northeast wind.

The southwest was the wettest part of the state in January. Rainfall was a half inch to an inch and a half above average at several sites including Texarkana (Miller County). 

 

Precipitation in January, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 2.30 2.84 -0.54 81%
Harrison (NC AR) 3.11 2.56 +0.55 121%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 3.34 3.43 -0.09 97%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 2.27 2.81 -0.54 81%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.49 3.55 -1.06 70%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.56 4.18 -1.62 61%
Texarkana (SW AR) 4.14 3.40 +0.74 122%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.01 4.30 -1.29 70%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.98 3.76 -0.78 79%

 

Winter headlines were posted from Texas into southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and portions of Mississippi at 100 pm CST on 01/10/2021.
In the picture: Winter headlines were posted from Texas into southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and portions of Mississippi at 100 pm CST on 01/10/2021.
 

On the 10th and into the 11th, the southern counties became the focus for winter precipitation. A new storm system was on the way, and tracked farther south. This was a somewhat rare event, with an opportunity for sledding in areas that typically don't get snow. This included sections of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

 

Forty eight hour snow accumulations as of 600 am CST 01/11/2021.
In the picture: Forty eight hour snow accumulations as of 600 am CST 01/11/2021.
 

There were many reports of two to more than six inches of accumulation. Mosheim, TX had nine inches, with eight inches around Cisco, TX, Jacksonville, TX, and Stephenville, TX, and seven inches at Granbury, TX. The official snow total at Waco, TX was 4.4 inches, which was the most in almost forty years (six inches on January 13, 1982). Interstates 49 and 220 were shut down temporarily in Shreveport, LA after close to three inches of snow.

In southern Arkansas, three inches of snow was tallied at Eudora (Chicot County), Hampton (Calhoun County), and Monticello (Drew County), with two inches at El Dorado (Union County), Hamburg (Ashley County), Lake Village (Chicot County), McGehee (Desha County), New Edinburg (Cleveland County), and Warren (Bradley County).

 

Snow Drought in Central Arkansas

Snow accumulated in parts of Arkansas from January 6th through the 11th, but not at Little Rock (Pulaski County). In fact, the last time there was an inch of snow locally was January 15, 2018. That was 1,092 days (close to three years) without an inch through the 11th, or the fourth longest recorded snow drought (well behind the record 2,148 day drought ending on January 21, 1995). The city had its last significant snow episode on January 21-22, 2016 (7.2 inches).

 

In the picture: Winds howled in Montana on 01/13/2021. Gusts were over 100 mph in spots as reported by the National Weather Service in Missoula, MT via Twitter.
 

Wind kicked up in the northern Rockies and northern Plains on the 13th/14th. Gusts from 70 to more than 90 mph were common from Montana into the Dakotas. Trees were downed, and buildings were affected (such as barns getting blown apart). East of Bismarck, ND, a semi truck was tipped over onto Interstate 94, and this blocked the highway temporarily. A large grass fire near Lemmon, SD charred more than 10,000 acres and led to the evacuation of farms in the area.

 

Link of Interest
Launching a Balloon in 67 mph Winds Video (courtesy of the National Weather Service in Glasgow, MT via Twitter)

 

In the video: This WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) loop showed a storm system from the Plains bringing showers and thunderstorms to Arkansas on January 24-25, 2021. There was snow to the north and a deadly tornado in Alabama. Another system arrived on the 27th with light snow in the northern two to three rows of counties, and light rain farther south. Data is courtesy of the College of DuPage.
 

Here at home, we were in for some rain heading into the last week of January. There were a couple of storm systems on the way from the Plains, with the first system arriving on the 24th/25th.

 

It felt like spring in central and southern Arkansas at 200 pm CST on 01/25/2021. Temperatures were in the upper 60s and lower 70s. Readings were in the 40s/50s across the north. It was cooler the next afternoon, with 30s/40s in the north and 50s/60s farther south.
Temperatures at 200 pm CST (01/25)  |  Temperatures at 500 pm CST (01/26)
In the pictures: It felt like spring in central and southern Arkansas at 200 pm CST on 01/25/2021. Temperatures were in the upper 60s and lower 70s. Readings were in the 40s/50s across the north. It was cooler the next afternoon, with 30s/40s in the north and 50s/60s farther south.
 

The system brought a round of showers on the 24th, and this was followed by plenty of warmth the next day. Afternoon temperatures on the 25th were well into the 60s to lower 70s across the central and southern counties. Given springlike conditions, it was no surprise that thunderstorms were coming.

 

In the video: The satellite showed a line of showers and thunderstorms quietly crossing Arkansas during the morning/early afternoon of 01/25/2021. There was no severe weather. Thunderstorms blossomed to the east of the region after dark, and some storms were severe.
 

A line of showers and scattered thunderstorms crossed Arkansas on the 25th, but this was an all bark and no bite event. Other than areas of heavy rain, there was no severe weather reported.

 

In the picture: More than a foot of snow piled up in southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa by 12 pm CST on 01/26/2021. The reports are from the National Weather Service in Omaha, NE via Twitter.
 

To the north, it was cold enough for snow, and there was a lot of it. A foot or more of powder blanketed parts of Iowa and Nebraska, including Des Moines, IA and Omaha, NE. At the latter city, it was the snowiest day (11.9 inches on the 25th) in more than forty years (since the mid 1970s). Lincoln, NE had its heaviest January calendar day snow (14.5 inches) on record, breaking the previous high mark of 11.4 inches on the 3rd in 1971.

 

A deadly tornado (rated EF3) tore through the north side of Birmingham, AL (especially the Fultondale community) between 1030 pm and 1100 pm CST on 01/25/2021. The tornado was responsible for one fatality and at least thirty injuries.
In the picture: A deadly tornado (rated EF3) tore through the north side of Birmingham, AL (especially the Fultondale community) between 1030 pm and 1100 pm CST on 01/25/2021. The tornado was responsible for one fatality and at least thirty injuries.
 

After dark on the 25th, a Tornado Watch was posted for parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. While it appeared an active evening was in store, not much happened. But one storm went haywire on the north side of Birmingham, AL around 1045 pm CST, and a deadly tornado (rated EF3/150 mph peak winds) was spawned.

Homes and businesses (including a hotel) were damaged or destroyed in the Fultondale, AL community. There was one fatality and at least thirty injuries.

In Leake County, MS, another storm pushed a tree onto a moving car along Natchez Trace Parkway. The driver of the vehicle was killed.

 

Link of Interest
More About the Fultondale, AL Tornado (from the National Weather Service in Birmingham, AL)

 

A storm system (ā€œLā€) borrowed moisture from the Gulf Coast (where showers and thunderstorms lingered along a stalled front) to bring chances of light rain/light snow to Arkansas by 600 am CST on 01/27/2021.
In the picture: A storm system (“L”) borrowed moisture from the Gulf Coast (where showers and thunderstorms lingered along a stalled front) to bring chances of light rain/light snow to Arkansas by 600 am CST on 01/27/2021.
 

The system that wreaked all of the havoc dragged a cold front all the way to the Gulf Coast, and the front stalled. Precipitation lingered along the front on the 26th to the south of Arkansas, and it turned a little colder locally. By 500 pm CST, temperatures were in the 30s toward the Missouri border, with 60s near the Louisiana border.

Early on the 27th, a new system was knocking on the door, but was not expected to cause as many issues as its predecessor. Even so, because the environment was colder, snow was likely north of Little Rock (Pulaski County).

 

Snow totals from northern into central Arkansas on 01/27/2021.
In the picture: Snow totals from northern into central Arkansas on 01/27/2021.
 

Three inches of snow was noted at Western Grove (Newton County), with two to three inches at Mountain Home (Baxter County), and two inches at Cushman (Independence County), Clinton (Van Buren County), Evening Shade (Sharp County), Lead Hill (Boone County), Marshall (Searcy County), Ravenden (Lawrence County), and Salem (Fulton County).

 

In the video: There was snow along Highway 62 in Mountain Home (Baxter County) during the morning of 01/27/2021. The video is courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Transportation via Twitter.
 

The snow lasted for a few hours, and then departed to the east by lunchtime. There was some slush on several roads, but travel was not greatly impacted. That is because melting occurred due to a somewhat warm ground and at/above freezing temperatures (hovering in the lower to mid 30s).

As snow moved out, a weak tornado (rated EF0) hit the airport in Tallahassee, FL during the late morning of the 27th. A small plane was flipped, and a hanger was roughed up. The airport shut down for a short while. 

The month ended with a massive snowstorm coming together from the Great Lakes to the mid-Atlantic states and New England. On the 30th/31st, a foot of snow was measured in and around Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. Four to more than eight inches of snow blanketed northern Indiana, with three inches at Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC. A whole lot more powder (one to two feet) was in the forecast across the northeast to begin February.    

 

Links of Interest
December 30, 2020-January 2, 2021 (heavy rain/some ice and snow)
January 6-11, 2021 (heavy rain/snow)
January 24-27, 2021 (heavy rain/snow)

 

Additional January Details
 
For more details about January, 2021...go to the "Temperatures and Precipitation" section below.

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
Temperatures were a little above average in January. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. January, 2021 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

January, 2021 Precipitation in North Little Rock Overall, precipitation was below normal across Arkansas, with above normal amounts in the southwest and far northeast. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

To right, a look at precipitation across the state. January, 2021 Precipitation in Arkansas

 

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