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Historic Weather Events
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Several historic events (Severe and Winter weather) have occurred in Arkansas since this website was started in 1996. These events are documented below.
 
The Tornado Outbreak of January 21-22, 1999
 
There were 107 tornadoes in 1999...a record for Arkansas. This was a La Niña (cooler than average water along the equator in the Pacific Ocean) year,  with a tendency for more tornadoes locally when such conditions exist. Up until this time, the previous record was 78 tornadoes in 1982. This was surpassed in 2008 (another La Niña year) when 81 tornadoes were spawned.
In the picture: There were 107 tornadoes in 1999...a record for Arkansas. This was a La Niña (cooler than average water along the equator in the Pacific Ocean) year,  with a tendency for more tornadoes locally when such conditions exist. Up until this time, the previous record was 78 tornadoes in 1982. This was surpassed in 2008 (another La Niña year) when 81 tornadoes were spawned.
 

The busiest year on record for tornadoes in Arkansas was 1999. There were 107 tornadoes spawned. On January 21st/22nd of that year, the largest tornado outbreak in state history occurred.

 

Fifty six tornadoes were spawned on January 21-22, 1999. There were 56 tornadoes counted, and they tended to spin up along the Interstate 30 and U.S. Highway 67/167 corridors (southwest through central into northeast sections of the state).
In the picture: Fifty six tornadoes were spawned on January 21-22, 1999.

 

Historic Outbreak

In all, this outbreak featured a whopping 127 tornadoes in ten states including Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

 

In the Little Rock County Warning Area...there were 30 tornado tracks across 15 counties. The Little Rock office issued 48 tornado warnings, 80 severe thunderstorm warnings and 22 flash flood warnings during the event. The tornadoes were responsible for 8 fatalities and 140 to 150 injuries.

 

Most of the tornadoes were produced between 4 pm and 8 pm CST on the 21st, and were accompanied by baseball to grapefruit size hail at times. Baseball size hail was produced just north of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 01/21/1999.
In the picture: Baseball size hail was produced just north of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 01/21/1999. There is a half dollar to the left of the hailstone. The hailstone was collected by Ed Pasierb (a former National Weather Service employee) near his home.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed four supercells (storms with rotating updrafts capable of producing tornadoes) at 430 pm CST on 01/21/1999. Strong rotation was noted in these storms. 
Supercells on Radar  |  Rotation on Radar  |  More About Rotation
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed four supercells (storms with rotating updrafts capable of producing tornadoes) at 430 pm CST on 01/21/1999. Strong rotation was noted in these storms. 
 

The previous state record for one outbreak was 34 tornadoes on June 5, 1916. Some additional records included...

* Most tornadoes in a state on any day in January (previous record was 13 tornadoes on January 10, 1975 in Alabama and on January 24, 1997 in Tennessee).
* Most tornadoes on one day in January (previous record was 39 tornadoes on January 10, 1975 in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas).
* Most tornadoes in any state in the month of January (previous record was 25 tornadoes in Texas in 1998).

 

A More Recent January Outbreak

Another large January tornado outbreak occurred on the 21st through the 23rd of 2017. There were 81 tornadoes counted in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. In Georgia, there was a state record 42 tornadoes during the event and 52 tornadoes for the month.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a tornado nearing Beebe (White County) at 720 pm CST on 01/21/1999. One of the more prominent tornadoes (rated F3) affected the Beebe (White County) area. Two people were killed in town.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a tornado nearing Beebe (White County) at 720 pm CST on 01/21/1999. Inbound winds (blue) were adjacent to outbound winds (red), which indicted rotation.

 

The tornado was spawned 1 mile southwest of town, and hit at 730 pm CST. The tornado dissipated 1 mile northeast of McRae (White County), and was on the ground for 8 miles. This home on Main Street in Beebe (White County) resembled a doll house (rooms visible from the outside) after it was hit by a tornado on 01/21/1999.
In the picture: This home on Main Street in Beebe (White County) resembled a doll house (rooms visible from the outside) after it was hit by a tornado on 01/21/1999.

 

A high school gym was destroyed by a tornado at Beebe (White County) on 01/21/1999. A girl's high school basketball game was played that evening. School officials were aware of the potential for severe storms, and paid close attention to warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
In the picture: A high school gym was destroyed by a tornado at Beebe (White County) on 01/21/1999.

 

The game was stopped at halftime. Two to three hundred people were in attendance, and had left by the time the tornado arrived a half hour later. The gym was destroyed.

Half of the tornadoes in the Little Rock County Warning Area were rated F2 or greater, and they caused extensive damage.

One of these tracked from around Shannon Hills (Saline County) through Little Rock (Pulaski County), and hit a historic district in the city.

 

Several homes built at the turn of the 20th century were heavily damaged. Even the Governor's mansion was not spared, with a tree falling on a fence around the property. A grocery store was ripped apart as well. Three people were killed in the area.

A grocery store was destroyed on 17th and Main in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 01/21/1999. Medicine bottles were unharmed.
In the picture: A grocery store was destroyed on 17th and Main in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on 01/21/1999. Oddly enough, medicine bottles on pharmacy shelves inside the store were unharmed.

 

Two tornadoes (rated F2 and F3) had nearly parallel tracks and were only a couple of miles (and two hours) apart across northern White and southern Independence Counties. They affected the communities of Holly Springs and Sunnydale (both in northern White County), and also areas just south and southeast of Pleasant Plains and Rosie (both in southern Independence County). One person was killed near Pleasant Plains (Independence County).

From Floyd to Center Hill (both in White County), a tornado (F2) wiped out several mobile homes and blew a house off of a foundation into a nearby field. There were two fatalities.

 

The volunteer fire station at Joy (White County) could not escape a tornado (rated F2) on 01/21/1999. At Joy (White County), the volunteer fire station was damaged by a tornado (rated F2). Homes and businesses suffered mostly roof damage at Newark (Independence County) when a tornado (rated F2) roared through town. There were a lot of trees downed or snapped as well.
In the picture: The volunteer fire station at Joy (White County) could not escape a tornado (rated F2) on 01/21/1999.

 

White and Independence Counties were especially hard hit during this event. The counties were affected by ten tornadoes and six tornadoes respectively. Numerous tornadoes were spawned in White and Independence Counties on 01/21/1999.
In the picture: Numerous tornadoes were spawned in White and Independence Counties on 01/21/1999.