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Storm Reports
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May, 2020 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
More than a foot of rain dumped in parts of northern and western Arkansas in May. Lakes in the north were nearly full, and rivers in the south/east remained elevated. There were several rounds of mainly wind damage, with huge hail toward the Missouri border and half a dozen weak tornadoes in the southwest. Record cool temperatures occurred during the second week of the month.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There was one record high temperature in early May and several record lows toward the middle of the month. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 40 (05/09)
Hot Springs 45T (05/10)
Jacksonville 41 (05/09), 40 (05/10)
Little Rock 45T (05/10)
North Little Rock 45 (05/09), 47T (05/10), 47 (05/12)
Russellville 40T (05/09)
Stuttgart 47 (05/09), 50T (05/11)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Site Record High (Date of Occurrence)
Fayetteville 86T (05/02)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Very Wet/Weak Tornadoes, Huge Hail, and Wind Damage/Very Cool at Times
 
Rainfall totals in May, 2020 were over a foot in parts of northern and western Arkansas. This was more than eight inches above average.
Rain in May
Departure From Normal Rain in May
In the pictures: Rainfall totals in May, 2020 were over a foot in parts of northern and western Arkansas. This was more than eight inches above average.
 

In May, it was all about the rain. At Waldron (Scott County), there was a staggering 16.18 inches of precipitation (just under the record of 17.75 inches in 2015). Mountain Home (Baxter County) had 14.95 inches (shattering the record of 11.87 inches in 1946), 13.32 inches was observed south of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), and Booneville (Logan County) got 13.20 inches. This was three to four months of liquid in four weeks. Elsewhere, five to more than ten inch amounts were common in most of Arkansas. Along the Mississippi River, May totals were actually below average by one to three inches. In the far southeast, less than two inches of rain fell at Eudora (Chicot County), Portland (Ashley County), and Rohwer (Desha County).

 

Precipitation in May, 2020
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 7.54 6.04 +1.50 125%
Harrison (NC AR) 7.76 4.69 +3.07 165%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 5.35 4.61 +0.74 116%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 6.23 5.47 +0.76 114%
Little Rock (C AR) 6.04 4.87 +1.17 124%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.58 5.24 -2.66 49%
Texarkana (SW AR) 7.75 5.09 +2.66 152%
El Dorado (SC AR) 5.60 5.05 +0.55 111%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.73 5.05 -0.32 94%

 

In the video: Four people (two adults and two children) were rescued from a stalled vehicle in swift water at Waldron (Scott County) during the evening of 05/22/2020. The video is courtesy of Brian Bailey of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and was made available by the Waldron Police Department via Facebook.
 

Late on the 22nd/early on the 23rd, the scene was horrific at Waldron (Scott County). Water flowed into buildings, and people had to be rescued from stalled vehicles. The Caddo River shot up more than twelve feet, and washed tents and a vehicle away at a campground near Norman (Montgomery County). People at the campground were evacuated, and nobody was injured. Multiple vehicles were also swept downstream at Glenwood (Pike County).

Farther east, up to five inches of rain was measured at Tuckerman (Jackson County) to begin the 27th. Three to four inch amounts were tallied near Jacksonport (Jackson County) between 600 am and 800 am CDT. Water covered portions of Highway 226 from just south of Swifton (Jackson County) to the Craighead County Line. The road was closed as a result. Several streets in Newport (Jackson County) were also flooded.

 

In the picture: Bull Shoals Lake was very high on 05/27/2020. A dry end to the month kept releases from the dam minimal. The photo is courtesy of Bull Shoals Parks and Recreation via Twitter.
 

As the month ended, several tributaries were high, mainly in the south/east. There was minor flooding along portions of the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers. This was nothing new, and was pretty much the norm since the beginning of the year. Lakes in the north were very high, and were close to flood pools. This included Beaver, Bull Shoals, Norfork, and Table Rock Lakes. The White River between Beaver and Table Rock Lakes was so swollen that it partially engulfed the suspension bridge along Highway 187 at Beaver (Carroll County). 

 

 

Earlier in the month, there was huge hail in northern Arkansas. On the 3rd, up to tennis ball size hail was noted around Mountain Home (Baxter County), with golf ball to hen egg size stones near Lakeview, Midway, and Norfork (all in Baxter County), Omaha (Boone County), Peel (Marion County), and Yellville (Marion County). There were baseball to softball size stones on the 4th at Fayetteville (Washington County), Rogers (Benton County), and Shady Grove (Washington County)! This broke windshields, and dented vehicles and metal roofs.

 

How Rare is Huge Hail?

With the exception of 2005 and 2013, baseball size or larger hail was observed in Arkansas at least once a year since 1980 (through 2019). Hail at least softball size occurred once every other year (20 of 40 years). As far as numbers of reports, of the roughly 5,625 instances of quarter size or larger hail, 2,414 were at least golf balls (42.9% of reports), 246 were at least baseballs (4.4% of reports), and 48 were at least softballs (0.9% of reports). Benton, Garland, Polk, Pulaski, Sebastian, Washington, and White Counties (central and western sections of the state) had the most reports (60 or more) of golf ball size hail or larger. This was partly due to population density. The largest hailstones were five inches in diameter (slightly larger than a DVD) on January 21, 1999 and April 2, 2006.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) identified rotation within thunderstorms southwest of Willisville (Nevada County) and southeast of Ashdown (Little River County) at 542 pm CDT on 05/16/2020. Tornado Warnings were posted by the National Weather Service in Shreveport, LA.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) identified rotation within thunderstorms southwest of Willisville (Nevada County) and southeast of Ashdown (Little River County) at 542 pm CDT on 05/16/2020. Tornado Warnings were posted by the National Weather Service in Shreveport, LA.
 

Damaging winds were an issue across the northeast on the 3rd. Trees and/or power lines were downed at Brookland (Craighead County), Corning and Rector (both in Clay County), Dell and Osceola (both in Mississippi County), and Evening Shade (Sharp County). A carport was damaged a few miles northeast of Jonesboro (Craighead County). A 61 mph gust was measured at Hoxie (Lawrence County).

Between 400 am and 600 am CDT on the 8th in western Arkansas, a line of thunderstorms took down trees in Acorn (Polk County), De Queen (Sevier County), Foreman (Little River County), Fouke (Miller County), and Pine Ridge (Montgomery County). Some trees fell on structures (several homes and at least one church) and caused mostly roof damage. At De Queen (Sevier County), three people had to be rescued after being trapped in a house hit by a fallen tree.

On the 16th, at least five weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1) were confirmed in the Shreveport County Warning Area. A sixth tornado was not rated because there was no damage to evaluate. The tornadoes had path lengths less than three miles, and affected Columbia, Hempstead, Little River, Miller, and Nevada Counties.  

Thunderstorm gusts from 60 to more than 80 mph blew through eastern sections of the state during the afternoon of the 22nd. Trees were toppled (some on houses) from Morton (Woodruff County) to Wynne (Cross County), and a grain bin was damaged around Parkin (Cross County). A tin roof was partially removed from a high school in Earle (Crittenden County), with trees on a trailer and a car. A camper was overturned on Interstate 55 about two miles south-southwest of Turrell (Crittenden County). Earlier in the day, at least six house fires were triggered by lightning in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area.

 

In the video: A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts) approached Siloam Springs (Benton County) around 700 pm CDT on 05/25/2020. A wall cloud (lowering of the cloud base) was clearly noted, with a brief tornado (rated EF1) spawned in West Siloam Springs, OK. The video is courtesy of Darby Bybee via Twitter.
 

Scattered afternoon and evening severe storms unleashed more wind on the 25th from southwest into central Arkansas. Trees were uprooted or snapped at Fordyce (Dallas County), Ogden (Little River County), east of Prescott (Nevada County), Sheridan (Grant County), and at Stamps (both in Lafayette County). West of Mena (Polk County), a chicken house was damaged. Small outbuildings were destroyed at Ludwig Lake near Hillcrest (Johnson County). A 55 mph gust was measured at the Little Rock Air Force Base (Pulaski County). A brief tornado (rated EF1) at Lewisville (Lafayette County) caused mostly tree damage. 

Around 700 pm CDT, a supercell (storm with rotating updrafts) with very impressive structure was close to Siloam Springs (Benton County). Just to the west of town (in Oklahoma), a short-lived tornado (rated EF1) was spawned.

 

Temperatures at 300 pm CDT on 05/12/2020.
In the picture: Temperatures at 300 pm CDT on 05/12/2020.
 

Finally, it was very cool at times during the first two weeks of May, especially across the northern and central counties.

Temperatures dropped into the 30s and 40s by the morning of the 9th. The low at Lead Hill (Boone County) was 34 degrees. It was 35 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Mountain View (Stone County), and 36 degrees at Calico Rock (Izard County), Harrison (Boone County), Highfill (Benton County), Salem (Fulton County), and Silver Hill (Searcy County). There were some records of note. The thermometer showed 37 degrees at Hardy (Sharp County), which was under the previous low for the day of 40 degrees set in 1917. The 39 degree reading at Batesville (Independence County) was colder than the existing low mark of 41 degrees in 1938.   

As far as daytime highs, it was only 49 degrees at Harrison (Boone County) on the 12th, and 55 degrees in Little Rock (Pulaski County). These were the coolest highs at these sites on the 12th since 1919.

 

Links of Interest
May 3-4, 2020 (big hailstorms/some wind damage)
May 8-12, 2020 (isolated severe storms/turning cooler)
May 15-17, 2020 (heavy rain/isolated severe storms)
May 22-23, 2020 (flooding rain/severe storms/lightning)
May 25-27, 2020 (severe storms/heavy rain)

 

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

 

Temperatures and Precipitation
Temperatures were below average in May. Readings at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to right. May, 2020 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

May, 2020 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was above to well above average in much of Arkansas (except the far east). Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

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

 

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