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Areas of Heavy Rain/Active to the West on March 12-15, 2021
 
Forecast maps showed a cold front moving into Arkansas from the north on 03/11/2021 and stalling. The front was followed by a large storm system ("L") in the Rockies and a new front in the central/southern Plains. This led to rain and scattered thunderstorms in Arkansas, and heavy precipitation in northern sections of the state.
Forecast Map (03/11)  |  Forecast Map (03/12)
Forecast Map (03/13)  |  Forecast Map (03/14)
Loop
In the pictures: Forecast maps showed a cold front moving into Arkansas from the north on 03/11/2021 and stalling. The front was followed by a large storm system ("L") in the Rockies and a new front in the central/southern Plains. This led to rain and scattered thunderstorms in Arkansas, and heavy precipitation in northern sections of the state.
 

March did not exactly come in like a lion, with little in the way of severe weather (and no tornadoes) in Arkansas through the first two weeks. Unlike a brutally cold February, it was largely mild, with weather systems coming toward us from the west instead of the north. By the middle of the month, a large storm system was on the horizon in the Rockies.

 

A nearly stationary front separated very warm conditions (temperatures in the 70s to lower 80s) to its south from much cooler conditions (readings in the 50s) to the north at 400 pm CST on 03/12/2021. Areas of heavy rain developed along the north of the front.
In the picture: A nearly stationary front separated very warm conditions (temperatures in the 70s to lower 80s) to its south from much cooler conditions (readings in the 50s) to the north at 400 pm CST on 03/12/2021. Areas of heavy rain developed along the north of the front.
 

The system was preceded by a cold front that made it into Arkansas from Missouri. The front ended up stalling across the region on the 12th, with a thirty degree temperature difference across the front. At 400 pm CST, readings ranged from the 50s across the northern counties to the lower 80s in the southwest.

During the overnight hours of the 12th/early of the 13th, the front became a focus for heavy rain. Downpours were noted mainly north of Little Rock (Pulaski County), with amounts from two to three inches in the extreme north. Twenty four hour rainfall through 700 am CST on the 13th included 2.50 inches at Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), 2.40 inches at Lead Hill (Boone County), 1.92 inches at Mountain Home (Baxter County), and 1.91 inches at Harrison (Boone County). 

 

The Polar Jet over the Great Lakes and New England tried to bring cooler air into Arkansas in mid-March. While it did turn cooler briefly in the northeast counties, the dominant Subtropical Jet kept it largely mild with storm systems driven across the southern United States.
In the picture: The Polar Jet over the Great Lakes and New England tried to bring cooler air into Arkansas in mid-March. While it did turn cooler briefly in the northeast counties, the dominant Subtropical Jet kept it largely mild with storm systems driven across the southern United States.
 

It was much more active to the west as the aforementioned Rockies system wobbled around in the mountains. A major snowstorm unfolded in portions of Colorado and Wyoming on the 13th/14th, with tornadoes in the Texas panhandle.

 

In the video: A tornado heavily damaged a home near Happy, TX on 03/13/2021. The video is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

At least a dozen tornadoes were spawned between Amarillo, TX and Lubbock, TX, with the strongest of these (rated EF2) tracking seventeen miles from Happy, TX to Palo Duro Canyon, TX. The tornado was responsible for significant roof damage to several homes.

 

Severe storm reports in the seventy two hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 03/15/2021. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: Severe storm reports in the seventy two hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 03/15/2021. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

As this tornado was ongoing, a secondary satellite tornado spun up about five miles north of Happy, TX. Videos showed the tornadoes briefly occurring simultaneously. In addition to the tornadoes, up to baseball size hail was reported.

 

Forty eight hour snowfall through 700 am CDT on 03/16/2021.
In the picture: Forty eight hour snowfall through 700 am CDT on 03/16/2021.
 

Meanwhile, the snow came down big time in Denver, CO and Cheyenne, WY, with Blizzard Warnings in effect and major highways closed.

 

In the video: The satellite showed plenty of clouds over Arkansas (right side of loop), with showers/isolated thunderstorms during the evening of 03/14/2021. To the west, a massive storm system (shown by swirling clouds) brought heavy snow and wind (blizzard conditions) to portions of Colorado and Wyoming (left side of loop).
 

At the former location, 27.1 inches of snow buried the landscape in two days, making it the fourth largest snowstorm in local weather history dating back to 1881. More than 2,000 flights were cancelled at Denver International Airport.

 

In the picture: Just over thirty inches of snow piled up in Cheyenne, WY on March 13-14, 2021. It came within a couple of inches of the two day record set in 1949. The information is courtesy of the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, WY via Twitter.
 

At the latter location, a whopping 30.8 inches of powder was measured along with gusts exceeding 50 mph at times. It was within two inches of the two day record set in 1919.

 

Ninety six hour (four day) rainfall through 700 am CDT on 03/15/2021.
In the picture: Ninety six hour (four day) rainfall through 700 am CDT on 03/15/2021.
 

Back in Arkansas, another round of rain and a few rumbles of thunder swept across the state during the afternoon/evening of the 14th and early on the 15th. There was a report of ping pong ball size hail southeast of Winthrop (Little River County).

By the time the whole event was over (from the 12th through the 15th), much of the northern half of Arkansas received one to three inches of rain (and locally more). Quite a few locations in the south had less than a half inch of liquid.

For the month (through the 15th), rain was above average at Harrison (Boone County) by more than two inches, and subpar by one to two inches in much of the rest of Arkansas..

 

Precipitation in March, 2021 (Through the 15th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.48 1.82 -0.34 81%
Harrison (NC AR) 4.31 1.71 +2.60 252%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 0.97 2.02 -1.05 48%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.04 1.78 -0.74 58%
Little Rock (C AR) 0.64 2.19 -1.55 29%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.22 2.44 -1.22 50%
Texarkana (SW AR) 1.05 2.07 -1.02 51%
El Dorado (SC AR) 2.81 2.42 +0.39 116%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 1.18 2.67 -1.49 44%

 

Minor flooding occurred along portions of the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers on 03/16/2021.
In the picture: Minor flooding occurred along portions of the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers on 03/16/2021.
 

There was enough precipitation to keep portions of the Black, Cache, and lower White Rivers high, with minor flooding occurring. The Ouachita River also remained elevated, mainly due to heavy rain/snow in mid to late February.