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.
 
Flooding Rain/Severe Storms/Lightning on May 22-23, 2020
 
A warm front separated mild conditions (high temperatures in the upper 60s to upper 70s) in northern Arkansas from much warmer (high temperatures in the 80s to around 90 degrees) and moisture laden air to the south on 05/22/2020.
In the picture: A warm front separated mild conditions (high temperatures in the upper 60s to upper 70s) in northern Arkansas from much warmer (high temperatures in the 80s to around 90 degrees) and moisture laden air to the south on 05/22/2020.
 

It would be an understatement to say there was too much rain in Arkansas to begin the year. Soil moisture levels were high, and several tributaries were elevated (causing minor flooding) by the 22nd of May. This included the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers. Unfortunately, there were more downpours coming. The cold front that passed through the region on the 17th was on its way back north (as a warm front), and was over the central third of the state. Meanwhile, a storm system aloft in the Plains was ready to interact with the front, and set off showers and thunderstorms.

The deluge started over northern and central sections during the predawn hours of the 22nd. Toward the Missouri border, it dumped at Mountain Home from 500 am to 900 am CDT. Three to four inches of rain fell, with water over several county roads.

 

In the picture: Several house fires were apparently triggered by lightning during the predawn hours of 05/22/2020. The photo is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

Precipitation was not as heavy toward Little Rock (Pulaski County), but there was a lot of lightning. At least three house fires were apparently started by lightning, mainly between 200 am and 230 am CDT.

 

In the video: The satellite loop showed strong to severe thunderstorms in northwest Arkansas during the late morning of 05/22/2020. The storms weakened as they arrived in central sections of the state, and then intensified in the eastern counties.
 

By 1000 am CDT, another cluster of storms entered northwest Arkansas from Kansas and Oklahoma. The storms downed trees in Springdale (Washington County) and Western Grove (Newton County). A couple of hours later, the storms weakened as they tracked to the southeast. However, they generated enough lightning to spark a few more house fires east of Mabelvale and just north and east of Macon (all in Pulaski County) between 200 pm and 230 pm CDT.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a cluster of showers and thunderstorms approaching Augusta (Woodruff County) from the west at 243 pm CDT on 05/22/2020. Twenty minutes later, the storms strengthened, with one storm producing quarter size hail a few miles northeast of Des Arc (Prairie County). By 320 pm CDT, the storms were near Fair Oaks (Cross County), and had a hook/claw feature (and some rotation) on the leading edge.
Radar at 243 pm CDT (05/22)  |  Radar at 303 pm CDT (05/22)
Radar at 320 pm CDT (05/22)  |  Loop
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a cluster of showers and thunderstorms approaching Augusta (Woodruff County) from the west at 243 pm CDT on 05/22/2020. Twenty minutes later, the storms strengthened, with one storm producing quarter size hail a few miles northeast of Des Arc (Prairie County). By 320 pm CDT, the storms were near Fair Oaks (Cross County), and had a hook/claw feature (and some rotation) on the leading edge.
 

As the storms reached the eastern counties, they picked up steam. Quarter size hail was produced about four miles northeast of Des Arc (Prairie County). A Tornado Warning was posted for areas just east of  McCrory (Woodruff County) at 318 pm CDT.

 

Thunderstorm wind gusts reached an estimated 70 to 80 mph east/southeast of McCrory (Woodruff County) during the afternoon of 05/22/2020. Trees were toppled, and power poles were downed or snapped. There was an awful lot of water in fields and ditches. It got worse farther east, with a tree on a house at Wynne (Cross County), and a roof removed from a shop building south of town. The latter two photos are courtesy of John Robinson.
Tree Down on a Road 4.0 Miles East-Southeast of McCrory (Woodruff County)
Utility Pole Snapped 7.0 Miles Southeast of McCrory (Woodruff County)
Tree on a House at Wynne (Cross County)
Roof Off of a Shop Building 4.0 Mile South of Wynne (Cross County)
In the pictures: Thunderstorm wind gusts reached an estimated 70 to 80 mph east/southeast of McCrory (Woodruff County) during the afternoon of 05/22/2020. Trees were toppled, and power poles were downed or snapped. There was an awful lot of water in fields and ditches. It got worse farther east, with a tree on a house at Wynne (Cross County), and a roof removed from a shop building south of town. The latter two photos are courtesy of John Robinson.
 

While no tornadoes were spawned, a National Weather Service damage survey confirmed thunderstorm gusts between 70 and 80 mph from just south of Morton (Woodruff County) to Fair Oaks (Cross County). Trees were pushed over, and utility poles were downed or snapped. More trees were toppled at 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). The storms finally exited into Tennessee at 430 pm CDT.

 

In the video: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed scattered to numerous thunderstorms slowly building from west central Arkansas into central and southern sections of the state from 700 pm CDT on 05/22/2020 to 300 am CDT the next morning.
 

We had a few hours to breathe, and then it started again. Isolated storms popped during the evening of the 22nd in west central Arkansas (the Ouachita Mountains). After dark, the fireworks became more intense. There was hail to the size of golf balls at Greenwood and Mansfield (both in Sebastian County), ping pong balls at Hartford (Sebastian County), and quarters southwest of Abbott (Scott County) and at Ola (Yell County). More tree damage was reported at Beauchamp, Cardiff, Needmore, and Waldron (all in Scott County).

Hail was really big in Burkburnett, TX. Between 630 pm and 700 pm CDT, softball to grapefruit size stones and larger (exceeding five inches in diameter) punched holes in roofs and busted windshields.

 

A hydrograph for the Caddo River at Caddo Gap (Montgomery County) showed a rise of over twelve feet early on 05/23/2020. This was in response to more than four inches of rain. The graphics are courtesy of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Hydrograph  |  Rainfall
In the pictures: A hydrograph for the Caddo River at Caddo Gap (Montgomery County) showed a rise of over twelve feet early on 05/23/2020. This was in response to more than four inches of rain. The graphics are courtesy of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
 

Back at home, storms would not go away and moved over the same areas like cars on a train (a process called training). As precipitation totals ratcheted up, flashy tributaries like the Caddo and Poteau Rivers climbed quickly. The latter river inundated Highway 80 with water near Hon (Scott County). The former river 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).

 

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.
 

More roads were under water at Booneville (Logan County). It was the same story at Waldron (Scott County), and the scene was horrific. Water flowed into buildings, and people had to be rescued from stalled vehicles. It became very clear that flash flooding was the big worry of the night, especially in portions of Logan, Montgomery, Pike, Scott, and Yell Counties.

 

Forty eight hour precipitation through 700 am CDT on 05/23/2020. For the year, rainfall was well above average from eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas to the Tennessee Valley and the Carolinas (including Arkansas). The rainfall departure graphic is courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
48 Hour Rainfall (Low Detail)  |  48 Hour Rainfall (High Detail)
Departure From Normal Rain (2020)
In the pictures: Forty eight hour precipitation through 700 am CDT on 05/23/2020. For the year, rainfall was well above average from eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas to the Tennessee Valley and the Carolinas (including Arkansas). The rainfall departure graphic is courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
 

Forty eight hour rainfall through 700 am CDT on the 23rd included 5.30 inches at Waldron (Scott County) and 4.75 inches about four miles south of Mount Ida (Montgomery County). Four to five inches of liquid was measured southeast of Booneville (Logan County) and Glenwood (Pike County), with three to four inches at Mountain Home (Baxter County), Oden (Montgomery County), Parks (Scott County), and Pine Ridge (Montgomery County).

Following the event (on the 24th), a Special Weather Statement issued by the National Weather Service in Little Rock (Pulaski County) stressed the concern for additional flooding given more cloudbursts in the forecast.

 

 

For the month (through the 23rd), there was a staggering 13.05 inches of rain at Mountain Home (Baxter County), 12.64 inches at Waldron (Scott County), and 11.68 inches south of Mount Ida (Montgomery County). This was three months of rain in three weeks. There was more than the usual precipitation in much of Arkansas, but it was drier than normal in parts of the south/east.

 

Precipitation in May, 2020 (Through the 23rd)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 5.58 4.55 +1.03 123%
Harrison (NC AR) 6.60 3.60 +3.00 183%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 4.74 3.76 +0.98 126%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.73 4.14 -0.41 90%
Little Rock (C AR) 5.19 3.78 +1.41 137%
West Memphis (EC AR) 2.27 4.02 -1.75 56%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.25 3.92 -0.67 83%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.77 3.78 +0.99 126%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.05 3.79 +0.26 107%

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of heavy rain, flash flooding, severe weather, and lightning in the Little Rock County Warning Area on May 22-23, 2020 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were quite a few reports of heavy rain, flash flooding, wind damage, large hail, and lightning on May 22nd and 23rd. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of heavy rain, flash flooding, severe weather, and lightning in the Little Rock County Warning Area on May 22-23, 2020 (in red).