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July, 2021 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
Very hot conditions in summer are often dependent on the presence of a nearby ridge of high pressure. In July, the high stayed away for awhile, allowing for the passage of several cold fronts, areas of heavy rain, and rounds of mild air. However, the high made an appearance late in the month, and brought triple digit temperatures. Some places had not experienced such heat in several years.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were a few record low temperatures tied or broken in early July. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Hot Springs 61 (07/03), 60 (07/04)
North Little Rock 62 (07/04), 66T (07/11)
Jacksonville 57 (07/03), 56 (07/04)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Areas of Heavy Rain and Mild at Times/A Very Hot and Dry End
 
A cold front pushed through Arkansas from the north to begin July, 2021. Showers and a few rumbles of thunder surrounded the front, with drier/cooler air to follow.
In the picture: A cold front pushed through Arkansas from the north to begin July, 2021. Showers and a few rumbles of thunder surrounded the front, with drier/cooler air to follow.
 

June ended on a dry note in Arkansas. After a ridiculous 19.89 inches of rain at Rohwer (Desha County) on the 8th through the 10th, only 0.21 inch of liquid was measured the rest of the month. Little Rock (Pulaski County) had 7.11 inches of precipitation the first ten days, and a trace thereafter. You get the picture. As July began, there was some promise of heavy downpours courtesy of a cold front from the north. A batch of cooler and drier was also on the way.

Showers and thunderstorms were hit and miss on the 1st as the cold front penetrated into the region from Missouri. Rain tended to be the most concentrated in northern/eastern sections of the state, and was the most spotty in the south. In fact, parts of the south got nothing at all.

In the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 2nd, an impressive 4.08 inches of rain dumped at Blytheville (Mississippi County), with 2.04 inches at Hot Springs (Garland County), 1.80 inches at Alum Fork (Saline County), 1.73 inches at Gilbert (Searcy County), and 1.70 inches at Alicia (Lawrence County).

 

Low temperatures on 07/03/2021. Unseasonably cool readings were made possible by dry/comfortable air behind a cold front, and dewpoints dropping from the 60s/70s into the 50s/60s.
Low Temperatures (07/03)  |  Dewpoint Trends (Early July)
In the pictures: Low temperatures on 07/03/2021. Unseasonably cool readings were made possible by dry/comfortable air behind a cold front, and dewpoints dropping from the 60s/70s into the 50s/60s.
 

After the front went through, it was unseasonably cool for a few days. On the morning of the 3rd, low temperatures were in the upper 50s to upper 60s at most locations in Arkansas (normal lows are in the mid 60s to lower 70s). Highs were in the 80s (normally in the upper 80s to lower 90s).

 

Top ten coolest low temperatures at Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 07/04/2021.
In the picture: Top ten coolest low temperatures at Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 07/04/2021.
 

On the 4th, the morning low at Little Rock (Pulaski County) was 60 degrees. This was tied for the second coolest Independence Day low on record (only four degrees away from the 56 degree minimum in 1968).

 

Tropical Storm Elsa was nearing the Florida Gulf Coast (east of the panhandle) at 400 pm CDT on 07/06/2021. The system made landfall the next morning near Fish Creek, FL. As Elsa headed for the Carolinas, flooding rain surrounded a storm system wobbling along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Projected Track of Elsa  |  Satellite View of Elsa and South Texas Storms
In the pictures: Tropical Storm Elsa was nearing the Florida Gulf Coast (east of the panhandle) at 400 pm CDT on 07/06/2021. The system made landfall the next morning near Fish Creek, FL. As Elsa headed for the Carolinas, flooding rain surrounded a storm system wobbling along the Texas Gulf Coast.
 

In the tropics, the focus was on Tropical Storm Elsa. The system was just east of Jamaica early on the 4th, and was over central Cuba by the afternoon of the 5th. After briefly becoming a minimal hurricane and then weakening slightly, Elsa made landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast (east of the panhandle) on the morning of the 7th and tracked toward the Carolinas.

 

More on Elsa/Deluge Along the Texas Gulf Coast

Heavy rain, wind, and isolated tornadoes accompanied tropical system Elsa northward along the East Coast. Two to more than six inches of rain dumped along the track of Elsa, with locally over ten inches in parts of Florida. Flash flooding was reported in places. On the 7th, a weak tornado (rated EF1) tore through the south/east side of Jacksonville, FL, and roughed up homes, businesses, industrial buildings, and at least one apartment building. Farther northeast on the same day, another tornado (rated EF2) flipped at least a dozen recreational vehicles at a campground near a Navy submarine base at St. Marys, GA. Ten people were injured. Later that evening, an 81 mph gust was measured at Calibogue Sound, SC.

A nearly stationary storm system and abundant tropical moisture resulted in torrents of rain in south Texas. Clouds unleashed 13.34 inches of rain at Rockport, TX on the 6th and 7th, and turned the town into a lake (widespread flooding). Almost half of foot of precipitation was tallied at Corpus Christi, TX on the 8th. On the northwest side of San Antonio, TX, more than six inches of liquid early on the 6th sent Leon Creek to its fourth highest level on record. The flashy tributary overflowed, and too much water closed Interstate 35 temporarily and inundated nearby structures.

 

Another cold front was set to push into Arkansas from the north by the 10th. Preceding the front, it was hot with high temperatures largely in the lower to mid 90s on the 8th. A few spots benefitted from isolated slow moving storms and prolonged downpours. During the early evening of the 8th, Conway (Faulkner County) got an impressive 2.88 inches of precipitation  On the 9th, Newport (Jackson County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County) got just shy of two inches of liquid, racking up 1.95 inches and 1.92 inches respectively. Batesville (Independence County) received 2.06 inches of rain in 44 minutes, and recorded a 52 mph gust. There was also quarter size hail at Huff (Independence County).

 

In the video: The satellite loop showed showers and thunderstorms developing westward (through Oklahoma toward the Texas panhandle) and moving southward (toward the Gulf Coast) during the evening of 07/10/2021 and early the next morning.
 

Once the front arrived, storms tended to build to the west of Arkansas (from Oklahoma into Texas), and danced around the northern counties. There was less than a tenth of an inch of rain at Fayetteville (Washington County), Harrison (Boone County), and Mountain Home (Baxter County). A line of storms eventually formed toward central sections of the state as the evening progressed.

The line of storms was generally not severe, but some wind damage occurred toward midnight CDT as trees were downed or snapped along and just south of Interstate 630 from west Little Rock (Pulaski County) toward the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. Trees were also toppled in parts of Lonoke County between 1200 am and 100 am CDT on the 11th.

 

Impactful Severe Weather to the North of Arkansas

Reports of severe weather were more numerous and impactful from Nebraska and Kansas into Missouri and Illinois. There were several instances of baseball to softball size hail, with the largest stones (4.25 inches in diameter) just northwest of Alliance, NE. At least four weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1) were spawned thirty to fifty miles west and northwest of Springfield, IL. Crops and a few barns were damaged or destroyed.

 

Rain was the most widespread and heavy during this event in southwest Arkansas. In the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 11th, Fordyce (Dallas County) got 1.90 inches of rain, with 1.72 inches at Waldron (Scott County), 1.71 inches at El Dorado (Union County), 1.66 inches at De Queen (Sevier County), and 1.62 inches at Antoine (Pike County).

 

Well above average temperatures were noted across much of the western United States in the thirty day period ending on 07/11/2021. Readings were mostly below average from the southern Plains to the southeast states.
In the picture: Well above average temperatures were noted across much of the western United States in the thirty day period ending on 07/11/2021. Readings were mostly below average from the southern Plains to the southeast states.
 

It was cooler behind the front on the 11th, with isolated to scattered precipitation continuing. The thermometer maxed out at only 79 degrees at Harrison (Boone County), 80 degrees at Blytheville (Mississippi County), 81 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County), Highfill (Benton County), and Newport (Jackson County), and 82 degrees at Mountain Home (Baxter County), North Little Rock (Pulaski County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

The mild spell was nothing new. Temperatures were largely cooler than average from mid-June to the present from the southern Plains to the southeast United States (including Arkansas). Meanwhile, there was a heat wave in the western states, with much warmer than average readings from the Pacific Coast into the Rockies.

 

Heat in the West

The high temperatures at Las Vegas, NV hit 117 degrees on July 10th. This tied the all-time high reached on July 24, 1942. The day before, the mercury topped out at 130 degrees at Death Valley, CA. The same thing happened less than a year ago (on August 16, 2020), and it was the hottest reading worldwide since July, 1931.

 

In the video: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a lot of rain persisting for several hours in southeast Arkansas during the morning of 07/17/2021.
 

A wet pattern set up in mid-July courtesy of yet another cold front from the north. The front moved very slowly through the state toward the Gulf Coast (a process that took several days), and produced its fair share of gullywashers.

Between 700 am and 100 pm CDT on the 16th, Fort Smith (Sebastian County) picked up 2.69 inches of rain, and Highfill (Benton County) received 1.73 inches. A couple of miles north of Bonanza (Sebastian County), flooding was reported along Highway 45.

Late on the 16th and into the 17th, downpours developed and remained over the southeast for several hours. By 900 am to 1000 am CDT on the 17th, the observer at Kelso (Desha County) reported 6.49 inches of precipitation, and Rohwer (Desha County) had 6.55 inches. Near the latter location, Highway 1 was inundated with water and became impassible.

 

An impressive 6.55 inches of rain dumped at Rohwer (Desha County) in the twenty four hour period ending at 945 am CDT on 07/17/2021. This was the highest one day July total at the site, and the fourth wettest day all-time.
One Day July Rainfall Records at Rohwer 2 NNE (Desha County)
One Day All-Time Rainfall Records at Rohwer 2 NNE (Desha County)
In the pictures: An impressive 6.55 inches of rain dumped at Rohwer (Desha County) in the twenty four hour period ending at 945 am CDT on 07/17/2021. This was the highest one day July total at the site, and the fourth wettest day all-time.
 

It was the wettest July day at Rohwer (Desha County), and the fourth wettest day all-time locally. It was already the wettest climatological summer (June through August) with more than a month left to go in the season (27.86 inches of rain so far which crushed the previous record of 25.47 inches in 1989).

Overcast conditions and cloudbursts on the 17th kept temperatures down. Readings were in the 70s and 80s at 1200 pm CDT. It was 73 degrees at Clinton (Van Buren County), Monticello (Drew County), and Stuttgart (Arkansas County), 75 degrees at Searcy (White County), 77 degrees at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and 78 degrees at Little Rock (Pulaski County).

In the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 18th, Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was hit with another 2.84 inches of rain (a forty eight hour total of 5.57 inches). Two to three inch amounts occurred at Alum Fork (Saline County), Cane Creek State Park (Lincoln County), and Malvern (Hot Spring County).

 

In the video: There was water everywhere in and around Ozark (Franklin County) during the morning of 07/18/2021. The video is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

The numbers went up in the next twenty four hours. A whopping 5.64 inches of precipitation proved to be too much at Ozark (Franklin County). High water damaged at least twenty homes and washed out roads.

 

Seventy two hour rainfall through 700 am CDT on 07/19/2021. Amounts were highest in west central and southeast sections of the state.
In the picture: Seventy two hour rainfall through 700 am CDT on 07/19/2021. Amounts were highest in west central and southeast sections of the state.
 

Just south of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), 3.75 inches was tallied. Malvern (Hot Spring County), Mountain View (Stone County), Pine Ridge (Montgomery County), and Waldron (Scott County) had two to three inches.

This event pretty much guaranteed above average July rainfall in portions of southern and western Arkansas. Fort Smith (Sebastian County) finished the month with almost eight inches of rain, which was over four inches on the plus side of normal. Sections of the north and east were one to more than two inches drier than usual, including Harrison (Boone County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). 

 

Precipitation in July, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.14 3.80 -0.66 83%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.70 3.67 -1.97 46%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 2.12 3.69 -1.57 57%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 7.94 3.39 +4.55 234%
Little Rock (C AR) 3.62 3.33 +0.29 109%
West Memphis (EC AR) 5.58 4.12 +1.46 135%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.95 3.37 +0.58 117%
El Dorado (SC AR) 7.17 3.43 +3.74 209%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.71 3.69 -1.98 46%

 

The aforementioned front exited the region to the south on the 19th. As the front departed, El Dorado (Union County) picked up roughly three inches of rain in the morning. North of the front, isolated storms managed to pop up in the afternoon, and at least two funnel clouds were witnessed in eastern Arkansas. No tornadoes were confirmed.

 

Too Much Rain and Too Many Tornadoes

Prior to the event, at least two dozen tornadoes were spawned in Iowa on July 14th. This was the third most tornadoes in a day across the state since 1980 (not far behind the record of 35 tornadoes on August 31st, 2014). The strongest tornado (rated EF3) tore a ten mile path through Lake City, IA (about 75 miles northwest of Des Moines, IA).

Monsoon season was off to a fast start in Arizona. At Flagstaff, AZ, heavy downpours coupled with a burn scar from a fire in 2019 led to flash flooding on the 13th. Streets turned into rivers as water swiftly flowed through areas normally covered with vegetation (until the fire). There were more high water issues in Tucson, AZ the next day, with people rescued from stalled vehicles. A rafting trip turned deadly along a flashy (rapidly rising) Colorado River at Grand Canyon National Park. One person was killed and there were a few injuries.

On the 19th, a creek swelled due to a several inches of rain west of Lindale, TX. The soil eroded, and a pine tree fell across Interstate 20. Multiple vehicles crashed, and at least four injuries resulted. 

 

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. The high provided above average temperatures and shut off the rain.

 

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. 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).

 

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.
 

It was hazy 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, 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 locales, including Little Rock (Pulaski County). This was about to change 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.

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 one last cold front to slide this way from the north. During the evening of the 31st, scattered thunderstorms formed near the Missouri border close to the front.

 

Feast or Famine in the West

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.

While 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, which was 5.85 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%.

 

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).

 

Links of Interest
July 1-4, 2021 (pockets of heavy rain/turning cooler and drier)
July 9-11, 2021 (isolated severe storms/areas of heavy rain)
July 16-19, 2021 (areas of heavy rain/mild)
July 26-31, 2021 (very hot)

 

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

 

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

 

July, 2021 Precipitation in North Little Rock Overall, precipitation was mostly at/above average in southern and western Arkansas, with some below average totals mainly in the north/east. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

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

 

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