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Severe Storms/Heavy Rain on March 27, 2021
 
A warm front headed into southern/eastern Arkansas from the Gulf Coast on 03/27/2021. The front brought warmth/moisture into the region. Meanwhile, a new cold front from the Plains collided with this air mass, and sparked thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening. Storms focused along the warm front across the south/east, which is where severe weather and flash flooding were most likely.
In the picture: A warm front headed into southern/eastern Arkansas from the Gulf Coast on 03/27/2021. The front brought warmth/moisture into the region. Meanwhile, a new cold front from the Plains collided with this air mass, and sparked thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening. Storms focused along the warm front across the south/east, which is where severe weather and flash flooding were most likely.
 

For the first time in 2021, it appeared that Arkansas was finally in for some significant severe weather on March 27th. Warm and moist air was headed into the state from the Gulf Coast, and a cold front was bringing cooler/drier air from the Plains. The clash of the air masses and the development of severe thunderstorms was expected to take place in southern and eastern sections of the state.

 

Temperatures (shaded) were well into the 70s to lower 80s (warm), and dewpoints (dashed lines) were in the mid and upper 60s (moist) across southern and eastern Arkansas at 400 pm CDT on 03/27/2021. Given plenty of warmth/moisture in place, the atmosphere was primed for thunderstorm development.
In the picture: Temperatures (shaded) were well into the 70s to lower 80s (warm), and dewpoints (dashed lines) were in the mid and upper 60s (moist) across southern and eastern Arkansas at 400 pm CDT on 03/27/2021. Given plenty of warmth/moisture in place, the atmosphere was primed for thunderstorm development.
 

By 400 pm CDT, temperatures were well into the 70s to lower 80s in the south/east (warm), and dewpoints were in the mid and upper 60s (moist). By that time, thunderstorms were just starting to pop up south/east of Little Rock (Pulaski County).

 

In the video: The satellite showed rapid thunderstorm development in southern and eastern Arkansas during the afternoon and evening of 03/27/2021. There were V-shaped signatures at times in the imagery, which indicated wind/clouds in upper levels of the atmosphere splitting and going around powerful storm updrafts. This is an indicator of severe weather in progress.
 

From there, storms took off and continued well into the evening. The main concern with severe storms was very large hail (at least baseball size). Damaging winds and isolated tornadoes were also expected.

 

Severe weather and flash flood headlines were in place across southern and eastern Arkansas just after 600 pm CDT on 03/27/2021.
In the picture: Severe weather and flash flood headlines were in place across southern and eastern Arkansas just after 600 pm CDT on 03/27/2021.
 

Between 530 pm and 730 pm CDT, there was three inch diameter hail (slightly larger than baseballs) at South Bend (Lonoke County), baseball size hail at Gurdon and Whelen Springs (both in Clark County), lime size hail at Newport (Jackson County) and Stuttgart (Arkansas County), golf ball size hail at Galloway (Pulaski County), and half dollar size hail at Furlow (Lonoke County). Golf balls came down at Marianna (Lee County) close to 800 pm CDT, and ping pong balls pelted Camden (Ouachita County) at 900 pm CDT.

Trees were downed by thunderstorm winds northwest of Fouke (Miller County), near Lewisville (Lafayette County), Princeton (Dallas County), Stephens (Ouachita County), and Woodberry (Calhoun County).

 

Two supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) were monitored closely in southeast Arkansas at 840 pm CDT on 03/27/2021. The storms were just west of DeWitt (Arkansas County) and south of Star City (Lincoln County). Strong rotation was noted in both storms.
Reflectivity at 840 pm CDT (03/27)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 840 pm CDT (03/27)
In the pictures: Two supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) were monitored closely in southeast Arkansas at 840 pm CDT on 03/27/2021. The storms were just west of DeWitt (Arkansas County) and south of Star City (Lincoln County). Strong rotation was noted in both storms.
 

Two storms in the southeast were monitored closely as both exhibited strong rotation. One of the storms spawned a tornado (rated EF2/19 mile track) from Reydell (Jefferson County) to four miles east-southeast of DeWitt (Arkansas County). The tornado lasted for a half hour (823 pm to 854 pm CDT).  

 

In the video: A tornado caused structural damage just south of DeWitt (Arkansas County) during the evening of 03/27/2021. The video is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

Witnesses reported the tornado, and video was captured and shared through social media. The National Weather Service visited the affected area, with the most damage at a rice production plant. Metal was torn off of buildings and grain bins, a roof collapsed, and a shop was destroyed. Thirty or so utility poles were snapped.

 

Two tornadoes (both rated EF2) were confirmed in the Little Rock County Warning Area on 03/27/2021. The tornadoes affected portions of Arkansas, Drew, and Jefferson Counties.
DeWitt Tornado  |  Monticello Tornado
Photo of Shop Building Destroyed/Gone South of DeWitt (Arkansas County)
Photo of Damaged Pickup Trucks in a Field North of Monticello (Drew County)
In the pictures: Two tornadoes (both rated EF2) were confirmed in the Little Rock County Warning Area on 03/27/2021. The tornadoes affected portions of Arkansas, Drew, and Jefferson Counties.
 

Just before 1030 pm CDT, a short-lived tornado (rated EF2) hit a few miles north of Monticello (Drew County). Several structures had roof damage, and multiple trucks at a construction company were tossed into a nearby field. Big trees were also uprooted.

 

Link of Interest
Damage Survey Information

 

Severe weather reports in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 03/28/2021.
In the picture: Severe weather reports in the twenty four hour period ending at 700 am CDT on 03/28/2021.
 

Elsewhere, two weak tornadoes (both rated EF0) were identified six to seven miles west-southwest of Bassett (Mississippi County) and two to three miles west of Bassett (Mississippi County). The tornadoes mostly caused tree and power pole damage and blew over a semi tractor trailer on Interstate 55. Two other weak tornadoes (both rated EF1) were counted near Marie and Osceola (both in Mississippi County). More power poles were splintered, a mobile home was heavily damaged, and a storage building was dismantled. The latter tornado crossed the Mississippi River into Lauderdale County, TN and ripped apart a barn. An additional weak tornado (rated EF0) touched down briefly about six miles north of Parkin (Cross County).

In all, there were seven tornadoes confirmed in Arkansas (and eight in 2021 given a tornado in Desha County on March 17th).

There were also a half dozen or so tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) from northeast Texas into northwest Louisiana between 600 pm and 900 pm CDT. The tornadoes toppled or snapped trees, roughed up roofs on homes, and destroyed outbuildings and a mobile home.

 

Twenty four hour rainfall through 400 pm CDT on 03/28/2021.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall through 400 pm CDT on 03/28/2021.
 

Back at home, one to two inches of rain and locally over three inches dumped in areas south and east of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Amounts exceeded two inches at Camden (Ouachita County), Des Arc (Prairie County), Lewisville (Lafayette County), and Monticello (Drew County). Fortunately, any flash flooding was spotty.

For the month (through the 27th), it was wetter than usual in the north and east, and somewhat dry at some locales in the south and west.

 

Precipitation in March, 2021 (Through the 27th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 3.35 3.37 -0.02 99%
Harrison (NC AR) 6.84 3.23 +3.61 212%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 5.62 3.87 +1.75 145%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 3.61 3.30 +0.31 109%
Little Rock (C AR) 4.15 4.03 +0.12 103%
West Memphis (EC AR) 7.10 4.25 +2.85 167%
Texarkana (SW AR) 4.24 3.66 +0.58 116%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.50 4.17 -0.67 84%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 4.45 4.72 -0.27 94%

 

In the north/east, March rainfall totals were above average by more than an inch and a half at Harrison (Boone County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

 

Minor flooding was in progress along the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers in southern and eastern Arkansas on 03/28/2021.
In the picture: Minor flooding was in progress along the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers in southern and eastern Arkansas on 03/28/2021.
 

Rain from this event and prior episodes in March kept several tributaries elevated in southern and eastern Arkansas including the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers. Flooding was generally minor. The situation was much more dire in Tennessee.

 

In the picture: By the time rain was over, 7.09 inches of liquid was measured at Nashville, TN on March 27-28, 2021. This was the second highest two-day total in recorded history locally.
 

A little more than seven inches of rain fell at Nashville, TN in two days (March 27th/28th), with water into homes and businesses and vehicles submerged. At least 130 people had to be rescued, and at least four people were killed. Interstate 24 was shut down southeast of the city during the morning of the 28th due to flooding. Several area rivers were expected to experience Top 5 crests. It was somewhat reminiscent of the catastrophic flood event in early May, 2010.

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on March 27, 2021 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were numerous reports of large hail, damaging winds, and isolated tornadoes mainly in southern and eastern Arkansas on March 27th. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on March 27, 2021 (in red).