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.
 
Heavy Rain/Isolated Severe Storms on May 15-17, 2020
 
A storm system aloft ("L") at 500 millibars (roughly 18,000 feet) slowly tracked toward Arkansas from the southern Plains on 05/16/2020. A lot of moisture (green) surrounded the system. Moisture was not as abundant the next day as the system weakened (disappeared from the maps). Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Arthur ("L") formed off the east coast of Florida and headed for the outer banks of North Carolina.
500 mb Map at 700 am (05/16)  |  500 mb Map at 100 pm (05/16)
500 mb Map at 700 pm (05/16)  |  500 mb Map at 100 am (05/17)
500 mb Map at 700 am (05/17)  |  500 mb Map at 100 pm (05/17)
500 mb Map at 700 pm (05/17)  |  Loop
In the pictures: A storm system aloft ("L") at 500 millibars (roughly 18,000 feet) slowly tracked toward Arkansas from the southern Plains on 05/16/2020. A lot of moisture (green) surrounded the system. Moisture was not as abundant the next day as the system weakened (disappeared from the maps). Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Arthur ("L") formed off the east coat of Florida and headed for the outer banks of North Carolina.
 

After record cool temperatures from May 9th through the 12th, the weather pattern changed in a hurry toward the middle of the month. It not only warmed up, it started feeling like the tropics as moisture levels surged. There was even a tropical system getting organized in the Atlantic Ocean just east of Florida (eventually becoming Tropical Storm Arthur).

 

In the video: The satellite loop showed showers and thunderstorms blowing up from the southern Plains into western Arkansas from 1000 am to 600 pm CDT on 05/15/2020.
 

On the 15th, the focus was mainly to the west of Arkansas. Showers and thunderstorms became widespread across the southern Plains surrounding a storm system wobbling this way from the southwest. Some of the fireworks managed to work into western sections of the state during the afternoon and evening.

 

Severe weather and flood/flash flood headlines were noted across the southern Plains into western Arkansas at 515 pm CDT on 05/15/2020.
In the picture: Severe weather and flood/flash flood headlines were noted across the southern Plains into western Arkansas at 515 pm CDT on 05/15/2020.
 

Rain was very heavy in places, with many streets covered by water in and around Waldron (Scott County). Strong to damaging thunderstorm winds toppled trees west of Midland (Sebastian County) and a few miles northwest of Murfreesboro (Pike County). There was quarter size hail at Bismarck (Hot Spring County) and Midland (Sebastian County).

 

Temperatures warmed up, and dewpoints (moisture levels) dropped quickly toward at Harrison (Boone County) toward evening on 05//15/2020. The pressure also fell rapidly indicating the presence of a wake low.
In the picture: Temperatures warmed up, and dewpoints (moisture levels) dropped quickly toward at Harrison (Boone County) toward evening on 05//15/2020. The pressure also fell rapidly indicating the presence of a wake low.
 

In the northwest counties, it rained at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Harrison (Boone County). As rain departed to the southeast between 400 pm and 600 pm CDT, the pressure dropped quickly. Temperatures warmed up and the air dried out. This was a sure sign that a small area of low pressure was forming in the wake of the exiting precipitation (a wake low). Winds kicked up and gusted as high as 50 mph. This was enough to push over trees in Fayetteville (Washington County).

Storms in southeast Arkansas were very isolated, but popped up in a hurry where they managed to develop. Weak rotation in the clouds was stretched as clouds mushroomed. Rotation tightened after being extended leading to a brief landspout just north of Sherrill (Jefferson County) not long after 630 pm CDT. This was unlike most springtime tornadoes that are usually associated with mesocyclones (strong persistent circulations that extend thousands of feet into the atmosphere).

 

In the video: Simulated radar images showed showers and thunderstorms swirling around a storm system in northeast Texas and building into Arkansas during the afternoon and overnight hours of 05/16/2020. Precipitation tended to become less widespread and not as heavy the next day as the system weakened.
 

On the 16th, the aforementioned storm system was getting closer (in northeast Texas), and conditions were expected to go downhill locally. Widespread precipitation was in the forecast, especially in central and western Arkansas.

 

Temperatures/dewpoints at 200 pm CDT on 05/16/2020. For the most part, temperatures were at or below seasonal in the 70s to lower 80s. High dewpoints in the mid 60s to mid 70s indicated there was a lot of low level moisture available.
In the picture: Temperatures/dewpoints at 200 pm CDT on 05/16/2020. For the most part, temperatures were at or below seasonal in the 70s to lower 80s. High dewpoints in the mid 60s to mid 70s indicated there was a lot of low level moisture available.
 

Given plenty of water to wring out of the clouds, flash flooding was a concern. Between 600 pm and 1100 pm CDT, high water problems were realized as a deluge unfolded.

 

Flash Flood Watches were posted from the late afternoon of 05/16/2020 to 700 am CDT the next morning for much of northern and western Arkansas.
In the picture: Flash Flood Watches were posted from the late afternoon of 05/16/2020 to 700 am CDT the next morning for much of northern and western Arkansas.
 

Water flowed across roads in Conway and Greenbrier (both in Faulkner County) and surrounding areas. Barricades had to be used in some cases. It was the same story at Shirley (Van Buren County) and south of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), and creeks were out of their banks. Five miles west and southwest of Arkadelphia (Clark County), Highways 8 and 26 were impassible due to flooding. Highway 71 at Y City (Scott County) was closed for the same reason.

 

Minor to almost moderate flooding was experienced along the Petit Jean River at Danville (Yell County) starting on 05/17/2020 and continuing for a few days (according to the forecast).
In the picture: Minor to almost moderate flooding was experienced along the Petit Jean River at Danville (Yell County) starting on 05/17/2020 and continuing for a few days (according to the forecast).
 

There were quick rises on the Buffalo, Eleven Point, Fourche La Fave, Little Missouri, Petit Jean, Saline, and Spring Rivers, with minor flooding occurring in spots. The Ouachita River also came up fast, and this was due to the rain and releases at Remmel Dam. There was enough water to keep the Black, Cache, and lower White Rivers elevated, which was the norm for much of the year up to this point.

 

In the picture: A mesoscale discussion from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) expressed concern about the possibility of isolated tornadoes in southwest Arkansas during the afternoon/evening of 05/16/2020.
 

The turning motion around the incoming system increased chances of isolated tornadoes southwest of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Numerous Tornado Warnings were issued in the far southwest, and there was damage in places.

 

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.
 

Trees were snapped six miles south-southwest of Willisville (Columbia County). Six miles north-northwest of Waldo (Columbia County), a car was flipped and a boat was tossed into a pasture. An equipment barn was destroyed near Bodcaw (Nevada County). A possible tornado was spotted southwest of Foreman (Little River County).

In the end, 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 were brief (path lengths less than three miles), and affected Columbia, Hempstead, Little River, Miller, and Nevada Counties. 

Other spotty wind damage was reported. Metal roofing was removed from boat docks and at least a dozen trees were uprooted at a resort just northwest of Crystal Springs (Garland County). Trees and power lines were downed at Leola (Grant County).

 

Seventy two hour (three day) precipitation through 700 pm CDT on 05/17/2020.
In the picture: Seventy two hour (three day) precipitation through 700 pm CDT on 05/17/2020.
 

The system gradually weakened once it arrived with a cold front on the 17th. Precipitation became more scattered and was not as heavy.

Three to more than five inches of rain dumped at quite a few locations in the western half of the state in the seventy two hour period ending at 700 pm CDT on the 17th. This included Alexander (Pulaski/Saline Counties), Benton (Saline County), Booneville (Logan County), Conway (Faulkner County), Damascus (Van Buren County), DeGray Lake State Park (Clark/Hot Spring Counties), Delight (Pike County), El Dorado (Union County), Fairbanks (Van Buren County), Fordyce (Dallas County), Harrison (Boone County), Hot Springs (Garland County), Marshall (Searcy County), Mena (Polk County), Menifee (Conway County), Mountain Home (Baxter County), Mount Ida (Montgomery County), Murfreesboro (Pike County), and Waldron (Scott County).

For the month (through the 17th), there was more than the usual precipitation in central/western Arkansas, and it was drier than normal in the east. Surpluses of liquid were over an inch at El Dorado (Union County), Fayetteville (Washington County), and Harrison (Boone County), with deficits over an inch at West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Precipitation in May, 2020 (Through the 17th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 4.86 3.36 +1.50 145%
Harrison (NC AR) 5.59 2.76 +2.83 203%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 3.44 2.96 +0.48 116%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.38 3.05 +0.33 111%
Little Rock (C AR) 3.85 3.24 +0.61 119%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.87 3.04 -1.17 62%
Texarkana (SW AR) 2.80 2.98 -0.18 94%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.52 2.80 +1.72 161%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 2.55 2.87 -0.32 89%

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of heavy rain, flash flooding, and wind damage in the Little Rock County Warning Area on May 15-17, 2020 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were several reports of heavy rain, flash flooding, and wind damage in central and western Arkansas on May 15th through the 17th (early). For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of heavy rain, flash flooding, and wind damage in the Little Rock County Warning Area on May 15-17, 2020 (in red).