National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Monthly Storm Reports and Storm Data
Storm Reports
Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
May, 2021 Storm Report
 
Short Weather Summary
 
It was all about the rain in May. High moisture levels yielded heavy downpours and wet conditions from western into central Arkansas. Showers were not as appreciable along the Mississippi River due to a ridge of high pressure to the east. Outside of a big wind event on the 3rd/4th, and very large hail on the 9th, there was not much severe weather. The month ended with a record cool Memorial Day weekend.

 

Record Temperatures
 
There were several record low temperatures on May 13th/14th, and also at the end of the month. Check out the records below.

 

Site Record Low (Date of Occurrence)
Batesville 42 (05/13), 42 (05/14), 48T (05/31)
Hot Springs 45 (05/14)
Jacksonville 42 (05/14)
Stuttgart 56 (05/29), 56 (05/30), 56 (05/31)
Note: "T" means record was tied.

 

Pockets of Flooding Rain/Big Wind Event Early/Somewhat Dry in the East/A Cool End
 
There was an enhanced risk of severe weather across much of northern and western Arkansas in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 05/04/2021. The forecast is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: There was an enhanced risk of severe weather across much of northern and western Arkansas in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 05/04/2021. The forecast is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

It was a close call on May 2nd. There was an outside chance of severe weather in southeast Arkansas during the late afternoon and early evening. However, severe storms stayed just the southeast of the state, with at least a dozen mostly weak tornadoes (rated EF0 to EF2) spawned in Mississippi. While we dodged a bullet this time, there was more to come on the 3rd/4th.

The forecast called for a line of storms to come together in eastern Oklahoma, and then move quickly through northern and western Arkansas from the late evening of the 3rd into the wee hours of the 4th. Strong to damaging winds were the main concern. Isolated tornadoes and some hail were also expected.

 

 

It was certainly warm and unstable enough to fuel severe thunderstorms. High temperatures on the 3rd were well into the 80s to around 90 degrees in places. It was 88 degrees at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), 89 degrees at Monticello (Drew County) and Texarkana (Miller County), and 90 degrees at Camden (Ouachita County) and El Dorado (Union County).

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) a cluster of strong to severe thunderstorms moving from eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas into northern and western Arkansas from the evening of 05/03/2021 to early the next morning. Over time, storms tended to bow out (becoming backward C-shaped), indicating the presence of damaging winds punching into the storms from the west.
Radar at 800 pm CDT (05/03)  |  Radar at 900 pm CDT (05/03)
Radar at 1000 pm CDT (05/03)  |  Radar at 1100 pm CDT (05/03)
Radar at 1200 am CDT (05/04)  |  Radar at 100 am CDT (05/04)
Radar at 200 am CDT (05/04)  |  Radar at 300 am CDT (05/04)
Loop
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) a cluster of strong to severe thunderstorms moving from eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas into northern and western Arkansas from the evening of 05/03/2021 to early the next morning. Over time, storms tended to bow out (becoming backward C-shaped), indicating the presence of damaging winds punching into the storms from the west.
 

As storms began firing during the evening in the southern Plains, they were especially violent in Texas. A strong tornado (rated EF2) crossed Interstate 35 south of Waxahachie, TX, and overtook three semi trucks and a cargo van. This resulted in three injuries, with the tornado responsible for a total of eight injuries. Farther south close to China Grove, TX, hail larger than grapefruits (five and a half inches in diameter) was witnessed and later verified. 

Between 930 pm and 1000 pm CDT, storms arrived in western Arkansas with a bang. A 74 mph gust was measured in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). A weak tornado (rated EF1) tracked from near Muldrow, OK to a few miles west of Rena (Crawford County). There was damage to some homes, and outbuildings were destroyed. Another weak tornado (rated EF1) went from four miles southeast of Muldrow, OK through Moffett, OK and Van Buren (Crawford County). This tornado had an estimated width of 2200 yards/1.25 miles! Many more structures were roughed up, including a courthouse at the latter location. A semi truck was overturned on Interstate 40. One more brief weak tornado (rated EF1) was confirmed north of Dyer (Crawford County). All three tornadoes took out numerous trees and power poles.

Farther east, 60 to over 80 mph straight-line winds become the dominant hazard. Trees and/or power lines were taken down at Antoine (Pike County), Ashdown (Little River County), Atkins (Pope County), Bismarck (Hot Spring County), Boston (Madison County), Caddo Gap (Montgomery County), near Charleston (Franklin County), just north Clarksville (Johnson County), Corning (Clay County), the north side of Fayetteville (Washington County), Harrisburg (Poinsett County), Harrison (Boone County), Haskell (Saline County), Horatio (Sevier County), Hot Springs (Garland County), Nashville (Howard County), Perryville (Perry County), and Pleasant Plains (Independence/White Counties).

 

Damaging winds downed trees and caused structural damage near Manson (Randolph County) and at Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) during the predawn hours of 05/04/2021.
Building Loses Metal at Home Improvement Center in Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County)
Trees are Toppled at Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County)
Grain Bins are Mangled Just Northwest of Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County)
Outbuilding is Destroyed Near Manson (Randolph County)
In the pictures: Damaging winds downed trees and caused structural damage near Manson (Randolph County) and at Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) during the predawn hours of 05/04/2021.
 

A 71 mph gust was recorded at the airport at Hot Springs (Garland County), with a 69 mph gust at Waldenburg (Poinsett County) and a 61 mph gust at the airport in Jonesboro (Craighead County). There were a couple of quarter size hail reports around Conway (Faulkner County) and Monette (Craighead County). More than 60,000 utility customers lost power.

North of Paragould (Greene County) around 210 am CDT on the 4th, a weak tornado (rated EF0) removed a mobile home from its foundation. A shed and metal storage building were damaged.

At Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), wind gusts likely exceeded 90 mph. Some homes and retail buildings in and around town were affected, with a home improvement center and furniture store hit especially hard. About two miles northwest of town, grain bins were mangled. An outbuilding was dismantled near Manson (Randolph County). 

 

 

Rain over the northern/western counties averaged a half inch to an inch. Local amounts were over two inches. In the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 4th, Morrilton (Conway County) got 2.09 inches of precipitation, with 2.02 inches just northeast of Damascus (Van Buren County), 1.55 inches at Fayetteville (Washington County), 1.33 inches at Hattieville (Conway County), 1.30 inches at Lead Hill (Boone County), 1.25 inches at Dardanelle (Yell County), 1.22 inches at Greers Ferry Dam (Cleburne County), 1.20 inches at Hardy (Sharp County), 1.19 inches at Subiaco (Logan County), and 1.16 inches at Mountain Home (Baxter County).

 

Severe weather reports in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 05/05/2021. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: Severe weather reports in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 05/05/2021. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

The storms weakened toward daybreak, but this event was not quite done. Later in the afternoon, more storms bubbled up in southeast sections of the state, with a 60 mph gust estimated at Arkansas City (Desha County). Trees were also toppled at Dermott (Chicot County) and Hamburg (Ashley County). A quick two to three inches of rain flooded roads with up to two feet of water at Dermott (Chicot County).

From there, a new line of storms produced widespread wind damage and isolated tornadoes from northern Louisiana all the way into southwest Georgia. The line weakened before reaching northern Florida during the evening of the 4th.

 

A cold front was about halfway through Arkansas from the north at 400 pm CDT on 05/09/2021. Behind the front, temperatures (dashed black lines) were in the 50s toward the Missouri border. It was a different world ahead of the front, with readings in the 70s/80s, and dewpoints (green shading) in the 60s/70s (humid).
In the picture: A cold front was about halfway through Arkansas from the north at 400 pm CDT on 05/09/2021. Behind the front, temperatures (dashed black lines) were in the 50s toward the Missouri border. It was a different world ahead of the front, with readings in the 70s/80s, and dewpoints (green shading) in the 60s/70s (humid).
 

When the wind starts kicking up, there is probably something coming. Such was the case on the 9th, with south to southwest winds gusting from 30 to 40 mph in parts of Arkansas as of 600 am CDT. At that time, a cold front was entering the northwest corner of the state from the Plains.

By 100 pm CDT, temperatures ahead of the front were in the mid 70s to lower 80s across the central/southern counties. Dewpoints were in the mid 60s to lower 70s (humid). These were favorable conditions for thunderstorm development, and a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was posted until 900 pm CDT. It felt like another season behind the front. Thermometers were showing readings in the mid 50s in parts of the Ozark Mountains including Bentonville and Rogers (both in Benton County). Winds had shifted to the north. 

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a severe storm near Mount Vernon (Faulkner County) at 235 pm CDT on 05/09/2021. A large overhang suggested that powerful updrafts were suspending hailstones aloft so they could grow. Hail to the size of baseballs was reported.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a severe storm near Mount Vernon (Faulkner County) at 235 pm CDT on 05/09/2021. A large overhang suggested that powerful updrafts were suspending hailstones aloft so they could grow. Hail to the size of baseballs was reported.
 

The first severe storm of the afternoon tracked from southern Van Buren County into Faulkner County. At 230 pm CDT, quarter size hail occurred about six miles north of Enola (Faulkner County). Fifteen minutes later, golf ball to baseball size hail pelted the Mount Vernon (Faulkner County) community.

Between 330 pm and 700 pm CDT, the focus shifted farther south. Golf ball size hail came down near Kimberley (Pike County), Chambersville (Calhoun County), and Thornton (Calhoun County). There were ping pong balls at Bearden (Ouachita County), and half dollars at Camden (Ouachita County). Thunderstorm gusts downed trees at El Dorado (Union County), Hilo (Bradley County), and Magnolia (Columbia County).

In northeast Texas, at least six inches of rain dumped from Nacogdoches, TX to San Augustine, TX. There was so much water in Lufkin, TX that officials asked residents to stay home due to flooded roads.

 

Showers and thunderstorms surrounded a nearly stationary front along the Gulf Coast on 05/11/2021. In addition to wet weather in Arkansas, high pressure ("H") over the Ohio Valley supplied a cool east to northeast wind.
In the picture: Showers and thunderstorms surrounded a nearly stationary front along the Gulf Coast on 05/11/2021. In addition to wet weather in Arkansas, high pressure ("H") over the Ohio Valley supplied a cool east to northeast wind.
 

The aforementioned front drifted to the south on the 10th. Along the way, there was very large hail in northeast Texas and southeast Oklahoma. Softball size hail occurred at Ponder, TX, and areas south of Boswell, OK got baseball size hail. The front eventually settled along the Gulf Coast by the 11th. A incoming storm system from the southern Plains interacted with the front, and sparked a large area of showers and thunderstorms. Clouds and downpours kept temperatures in the 50s/60s across Arkansas.

One to more than two inches of rain was common south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). In the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on the 12th, Texarkana (Miller County) had 2.03 inches of rain, with 2.02 inches at Antoine (Pike County), 1.80 inches at Felsenthal Lock and Dam (Ashley/Union Counties), 1.52 inches at Ashdown (Little River County), 1.46 inches at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), 1.43 inches at DeGray Lake State Park (Clark/Hot Spring Counties), and 1.40 inches at Camden (Ouachita County) and Lewisville (Lafayette County).

Big time rain was measured in New Orleans, LA from the 10th through the 12th. A whopping 7.49 inches was tallied at the Louis Armstrong International Airport, with 11.13 inches for the month (nine inches above average). A weak tornado (rated EF0) also tore through a section of the city early on the 12th, causing tree, utility pole, and street light damage, and damaging several homes (mostly roofs). More than 10,000 utility customers lost power.

 

Abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico flowed northward through Arkansas between a storm system ("L") in the southern Rockies/southern Plains and a ridge of high pressure ("H") over the southeast United States on 05/19/2021.
In the picture: Abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico flowed northward through Arkansas between a storm system ("L") in the southern Rockies/southern Plains and a ridge of high pressure ("H") over the southeast United States on 05/19/2021.
 

In mid-May, the weather pattern came to a grinding halt. A storm system in the southwest United States became separated from the main flow aloft. As the system wobbled toward Arkansas, a large ridge of high pressure acted as a wall to the east. Between the system and the high, tons of moisture streamed northward from the Gulf of Mexico. As moisture levels skyrocketed, the rain came.

Granted, it was not a deluge for everybody, but there were parts of the state (especially central Arkansas) that got flooding rain. Precipitable water, or the amount of water contained in a vertical column of the atmosphere, was at least one and a half times what is considered normal. Given more than the usual liquid to wring from the clouds, rain was generated efficiently.

 

Precipitable Water (PWAT) Values at North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County)
Time/Date PWAT (Inches)
700 pm CDT 05/16 0.92
700 am CDT 05/17 1.60
700 pm CDT 05/17 1.66
700 am CDT 05/18 1.57
700 pm CDT 05/18 1.44
700 am CDT 05/19 1.60
700 pm CDT 05/19 1.93
Note: Normal values are between 1.00 and 1.25 inches.

 

Rainfall in May, 2021. Amounts exceeded ten inches in parts of western and central Arkansas.
In the picture: Rainfall in May, 2021. Amounts exceeded ten inches in parts of western and central Arkansas.
 

Early on the 17th, over four inches of rain came down in a hurry across southern Perry and northwest Saline Counties. A couple of miles southwest of Houston (Perry County), water inundated Highway 216. It was the same story to start the next morning in western White and northern Lonoke Counties. This time, Highway 319 was flooded two miles northwest of Ward (Lonoke County).

 

In the picture: At Ferndale (Pulaski County), 5.25 inches of rain was measured, with most of this occurring during the evening of 05/18/2021. The photo is courtesy of Mary Hightower via Twitter.
 

During the afternoon of the 18th, thunderstorms advanced from southeast Oklahoma into southwest and central Arkansas. Benton and Bryant (both in Saline County) were hammered with at least four to six inches of rain in only a few hours. Roads became rivers, and threatened some homes. Cars stalled in high water. At least fifteen people were rescued. Roads were barricaded in Vilonia (Faulkner County) due to flooding, and water flowed over Highway 229 at Leola (Grant County).

Flashy tributaries such as the Buffalo, Little Missouri, and Saline Rivers responded with rapid rises, but it was not enough to cause significant issues.

Along the northeast Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts, there was a foot or more of precipitation since the 15th. Flash flood emergencies were declared in Baton Rouge, LA and Lake Charles, LA. Numerous homes were flooded, and roads were closed (including parts of Interstate 10). Five deaths were confirmed in Louisiana, mainly due to people drowning in vehicles. On the 20th, at least 300 homes were evacuated near Bayou Sorrel, LA as barriers designed to stop flood waters were apparently breached. About 60 miles north of Beaumont, TX, the town of Jasper, TX turned into a lake on the 17th. It was enough to close schools, and classes were held online. Houses and vehicles were swamped in Fannett, TX.

 

Near Record Rainfall at Lake Charles, LA

On May 17th, a whopping 12.49 inches of precipitation was measured at Lake Charles, LA. This was the third highest one day rainfall on record locally. Interestingly, less than a year prior to this episode, the city got 9.53 inches of rain on October 9th, 2020 (with Hurricane Delta). This was the 9th highest one day total.

 

Tornadoes were most numerous in the southeast United States (especially in Alabama and Mississippi) so far in 2021 (through May 19th). The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: Tornadoes were most numerous in the southeast United States (especially in Alabama and Mississippi) so far in 2021 (through May 19th). The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

As far as severe storms, at least eight weak tornadoes (rated EF0/EF1) were counted from north central Texas to the Texas panhandle on the 16th/17th. Softball to grapefruit size hail was reported near Forsan, TX and Snyder, TX.

Here at home, there was some severe weather as well. On the 18th, thunderstorm winds downed trees at Amity (Clark County), Hot Springs Village (Garland/Saline Counties), Mena (Polk County), Mount Ida (Montgomery County), and Russellville (Pope County). A brief tornado (rated EF0) was also spawned just south of Oppelo (Conway County). A small number of farm outbuildings were damaged.

 

Tornadoes in 2021 (Through May 19th)

Through the first four and a half months of the year, the tornado count was highest in the southeast United States. At least 140 tornadoes cut through Alabama and Mississippi, which was way above the normal of 45 to 50 tornadoes. Heading west, there were 16 tornadoes in Arkansas and close to 80 tornadoes in Texas. These numbers were a little below the usual pace of 25 and 90 tornadoes respectively. It was very quiet in parts of Tornado Alley. From Oklahoma to Nebraska, a paltry 20 tornadoes was well under the normal of 120 tornadoes.

 

In the video: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a cluster of showers and thunderstorms slowly advancing from western into central Arkansas during the afternoon of 05/25/2021. The triggering mechanism was a storm system aloft that showed up as a swirling/turning motion in the precipitation.
 

Abundant moisture/high humidity relocated to the Plains from the 20th to the 23rd, and we dried out temporarily. It did not last, with moisture shifting in this direction by the 25th. Early in the day, thunderstorms east of Oklahoma City, OK weakened, and left behind a system aloft. This mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) initiated new thunderstorms over the Ouachita Mountains in the afternoon.

 

In the Tropics

The tropical season started early with a brief Tropical Storm (Ana) in the open Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles northeast of Bermuda on the 23rd. The named storm was here and gone in less than a day.

 

It was a gullywasher through the evening (two to more than four inches of rain) from Waldron (Scott County) and Mena (Polk County) to Danville (Yell County) and Russellville (Pope County). There was flooding along Highway 71 in Scott County, and made the thoroughfare impassible in places. Just northeast of Rover (Yell County), water flowed across Highway 27. There was street flooding in Mena (Polk County) as well.

In southwest Arkansas, more thunderstorms from northeast Texas unloaded 3.35 inches of rain at Texarkana (Miller County) between 100 am and 300 am CDT on the 26th. High water inundated roads (several streets were barricaded/closed) and made it into houses. Stranded motorists and homeowners were rescued.

 

The Petit Jean River at Danville (Yell County) shot up about twelve feet late on 05/25/2021 and into the next morning following heavy rain.
In the picture: The Petit Jean River at Danville (Yell County) shot up about twelve feet late on 05/25/2021 and into the next morning following heavy rain.
 

The Petit Jean River at Danville (Yell County) climbed three to four feet above flood stage (creating minor flooding) on the 26th. The Fourche LaFave River at Gravelly (Yell County) rocketed from around four feet to almost twenty three feet (a rise of nineteen feet). This was just below the flood stage of twenty four feet.

 

In the video: The satellite showed thunderstorms flourishing from southern Missouri into Oklahoma during the afternoon of 05/27/2021. Severe storms were noted in northwest Arkansas by early evening.
 

While it quieted down on the 26th locally, there were nearly two dozen tornado reports from Nebraska to the Texas panhandle, and up to softball size hail just south of Hays, KS. The cold front responsible for the fireworks was set to plow into Arkansas the next day.

Between 600 pm and 700 pm CDT on the 27th, storms were off to the races in the northwest. Golf ball size hail was reported just west of Springdale (Benton/Washington Counties). Close to Bella Vista (Benton County), 1.10 inches of rain dumped in 20 minutes. There was a 52 mph gust and a quick inch of rain at Fayetteville (Washington County). After dark, hen egg size hail was reported north of Rogers (Benton County), and a creek apparently overflowed onto Highway 64 west of Ozark (Franklin County). A tree was also downed near Caddo Gap (Montgomery County).

Most of the state received a half inch to an inch and a half of rain, with locally over two inches. The heaviest totals were in the north and west.

For the month, it was wet to very wet in much of central and western Arkansas. At Texarkana (Miller County), there was a surplus of rain by more than four inches!

 

Precipitation in May, 2021
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 6.67 5.89 +0.78 113%
Harrison (NC AR) 6.73 4.81 +1.92 140%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.63 5.21 -0.58 89%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 6.74 5.63 +1.11 120%
Little Rock (C AR) 4.48 5.08 -0.60 88%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.74 5.03 -2.29 54%
Texarkana (SW AR) 9.31 5.10 +4.21 183%
El Dorado (SC AR) 6.48 4.81 +1.67 135%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.26 4.80 -0.54 89%

 

Umbrellas were not needed as much in the east. It was drier than usual, with a precipitation deficit over two inches at West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

The Memorial Day weekend of 2021 was the coolest on record at Little Rock National Airport/Adams Field (Pulaski County) since the three day format began in 1971.
In the picture: The Memorial Day weekend of 2021 was the coolest on record at Little Rock National Airport/Adams Field (Pulaski County) since the three day format began in 1971.
 

The end of May was unusually cool and mostly quiet. In fact, it was the coolest Memorial Day (three day) weekend on record at Little Rock (Pulaski County). High temperatures on the 29th and 30th were around 70 degrees, with morning lows in the mid 50s. It was warmer (78 degrees) on the 31st after a somewhat chilly (54 degrees) start to the day.

 

Links of Interest
May 3-4, 2021 (severe storms)
May 9-11, 2021 (severe storms/heavy rain)
May 16-19, 2021 (heavy rain/isolated severe storms)
May 25-27, 2021 (heavy rain/isolated severe storms)

 

Additional May Details
 
For more details about May, 2021...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, 2021 Temperatures in North Little Rock

 

May, 2021 Precipitation in North Little Rock Precipitation was above to well above average in central and western Arkansas, and below average in the east. Amounts at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) are shown to left.

 

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

 

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