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Storm Reports
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Tornadoes/Heavy Rain/Another Freeze on April 13-16, 2018
 
Severe weather appeared likely ahead of a storm system ("L") in the Plains on 04/13/2018. There was ample moisture to fuel thunderstorms, with dewpoints (dashed green lines) over 65 degrees F. Low level (0-1 kilometer) storm relative helicity (representing the potential for rotating winds) values were over 300 m2/s2 (dashed blue lines). CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) values were between 1000 and 2000 Joules/kilogram (shaded). CAPE is not only a measure of energy available for thunderstorm development, it is related to the strength of storm updrafts. Finally, winds turned with height (south to southeast surface flow and a southwest flow aloft), which increased the concern for tornadoes.
In the picture: Severe weather appeared likely ahead of a storm system ("L") in the Plains on 04/13/2018. There was ample moisture to fuel thunderstorms, with dewpoints (dashed green lines) over 65 degrees F. Low level (0-1 kilometer) storm relative helicity (representing the potential for rotating winds) values were over 300 m2/s2 (dashed blue lines). CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) values were between 1000 and 2000 Joules/kilogram (shaded). CAPE is not only a measure of energy available for thunderstorm development, it is related to the strength of storm updrafts. Finally, winds turned with height (south to southeast surface flow and a southwest flow aloft), which increased the concern for tornadoes.
 

It was Friday the 13th (of April), and not a day for good luck. The weather certainly looked ominous, and it appeared the largest severe weather event of the young spring season was about to unfold.

 

Various weather headlines were posted as of 400 pm CDT on 04/13/2018. Severe weather and flooding were highlighted locally, with wind and a fire danger to the west and blizzard conditions to the north.
In the picture: Various weather headlines were posted as of 400 pm CDT on 04/13/2018. Severe weather and flooding were highlighted locally, with wind and a fire danger to the west and blizzard conditions to the north.
 

There was a lot going on in the middle of the country, with heavy snow/cold to the north of Arkansas and dusty conditions/fires to the west. Around here, moisture levels were on the way up, with temperatures climbing into the 70s to around 80 degrees. Thunderstorms were in the forecast, and winds turned with height. It was a perfect setting for tornadoes.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed isolated to scattered supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) ahead of lines of storms approaching from the west during the afternoon and evening of 04/13/2018. Initially, tornadoes were spawned by supercells in western Arkansas in areas such as Mountainburg (Crawford County), Lavaca (Sebastian County), and Umpire (Howard County). Another tornado was produced along a line near Gamaliel (Baxter County). Eventually, the focus shifted to supercells in southeast sections of the state.
Radar at 400 pm CDT (04/13)  |  Radar at 600 pm CDT (04/13)
Radar at 800 pm CDT (04/13)  |  Radar at 1000 pm CDT (04/13)
In the pictures: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed isolated to scattered supercells (storms with rotating updrafts) ahead of lines of storms approaching from the west during the afternoon and evening of 04/13/2018. Initially, tornadoes were spawned by supercells in western Arkansas in areas such as Mountainburg (Crawford County), Lavaca (Sebastian County), and Umpire (Howard County). Another tornado was produced along a line near Gamaliel (Baxter County). Eventually, the focus shifted to supercells in southeast sections of the state.
 

Shortly after 400 pm CDT, a supercell (storm with rotating updrafts) in northwest sections of the state spawned a tornado (rated EF2) at Mountainburg (Crawford County). At least 150 homes were damaged along a twelve mile track, with mobile homes and outbuildings destroyed. Four people were injured.

 

A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts and exhibiting features such as a hook echo and strong rotation) was moving from Rudy to Mountainburg (both in Crawford County) at 404 pm CDT on 04/13/2018.
Reflectivity at 404 pm CDT (04/13)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 404 pm CDT (04/13)
In the pictures: A supercell (storm with rotating updrafts and exhibiting features such as a hook echo and strong rotation) was moving from Rudy to Mountainburg (both in Crawford County) at 404 pm CDT on 04/13/2018.
 

Just before 600 pm CDT, another tornado (rated EF1) hit areas between Lavaca (Sebastian County) and Cecil (Franklin County). This tornado mainly caused tree and power pole damage, and also tore up a mobile home. At about the same time, tennis ball size hail was reported three miles east of Omaha (Boone County).

 

Link of Interest
More About Rotation

 

At least thirteen tornadoes were counted across Arkansas through 04/17/2018.
In the picture: At least thirteen tornadoes were counted across Arkansas through 04/17/2018.
 

Heading into the evening (between 630 pm and 1030 pm CDT), half a dozen more tornadoes (rated EF0 to EF2) were confirmed just northwest of Ozone (Johnson County), close to Umpire (Howard County), west of Pencil Bluff (Montgomery County), southwest of Opello (Conway County), near Gamaliel (Baxter County), and southeast of El Paso (White County). These locales are from northern and western into central Arkansas.

There were also significant damaging wind episodes. At Mountain Home (Baxter County), 80 to 90 mph gusts damaged several businesses. A nursing home lost a part of its roof and had to be evacuated. Gusts over 90 mph blew down many trees at the Shady Lake Recreation Area (Polk County). The park was closed as a result.

 

 

Chicken houses were heavily damaged by a weak tornado (rated EF1) near Umpire (Howard County) on 04/13/2018.
In the picture: Chicken houses were heavily damaged by a weak tornado (rated EF1) near Umpire (Howard County) on 04/13/2018. Click to enlarge.
Numerous trees were uprooted or snapped by a weak tornado (rated EF1) near Umpire (Howard County) on 04/13/2018.
In the picture: Numerous trees were uprooted or snapped by a weak tornado (rated EF1) near Umpire (Howard County) on 04/13/2018. Click to enlarge.
Powerful winds mowed down a lot of trees at the Shady Lake Recreation Area (Polk County) on 04/13/2018.
In the picture: Powerful winds mowed down a lot of trees at the Shady Lake Recreation Area (Polk County) on 04/13/2018. Click to enlarge.
 

During the wee hours of the 14th, attention shifted to the southeast. Tornado Warnings were issued for several supercells, and a line of storms barelled into the area from the southwest. Five tornadoes (rated EF1/EF2) ripped through portions of Union, Ashley, and Chicot Counties (toward the Louisiana border). This brought the event total to thirteen tornadoes (and twenty two tornadoes in 2018 across the state).

 

 

In Louisiana, at least twenty tornadoes were confirmed. One of the tornadoes (rated EF1) cut a 22 mile swath through Shreveport, LA. Tragically, a 15-month old toddler was killed east of town (toward Haughton, LA) when a large tree fell on a recreational vehicle.

 

Twenty four hour rainfall as of 700 am CDT on 04/14/2018.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall as of 700 am CDT on 04/14/2018.
 

Along with tornadoes, parts of the area were hammered with heavy rain. Some spots got more than three inches of liquid. Twenty four hour amounts through 700 am CDT on the 14th included 4.10 inches at Thatcher Lock and Dam (Union County), 4.00 inches at Cane Creek State Park (Lincoln County), 3.92 inches at Big Fork (Polk County), 3.82 inches at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), 3.57 inches at Marche (Pulaski County), and 3.38 inches at Hot Springs National Park (Garland County).

There was too much rain at DeWitt (Arkansas County), with water into some homes. Highway 189 was shut down at Kingsland (Cleveland County) due to flooding.

 

Temperatures were 20 to 30 degrees below average on 04/15/2018.
In the picture: Temperatures were 20 to 30 degrees below average on 04/15/2018.
 

Much cooler air followed the severe storms. By the 15th, temperatures struggled to get out of the 30s toward the Missouri border. The high for the day was only 39 degrees at Mountain Home (Baxter County) and 41 degrees at Harrison (Boone County). Elsewhere, thermometers showed 40s and 50s.

Up north, snow continued to fall at Minneapolis, MN and Green Bay, WI. At the former location, a three day accumulation of over 15 inches pushed the April total to 26 inches. This was a record for the month. The 23.2 inches of powder measured at the latter location made this the second largest snowstorm on record locally.

Meanwhile, huge fires were torching large tracts of land in western Oklahoma. The largest fire burned over 240,000 near Rhea, OK, and was only 3 percent contained.

 

Low temperatures on 04/16/2018.
In the picture: Low temperatures on 04/16/2018.
 

On the morning of the 16th, there was another freeze in portions Arkansas. This was one of a handful of freezes already experienced during the month. It was 23 degrees at Compton (Newton County), 24 degrees at Fayetteville (Washington County) and Highfill (Benton County), 25 degrees at Winslow (Washington County), and 28 degrees at Cabot (Lonoke County), Hardy (Sharp County), Marshall (Searcy County), and Murfreesboro (Pike County).

At Little Rock (Pulaski County), it was 32 degrees. This was second latest freeze (the latest was April 19, 1983), and the third freeze of the month (which last happened in 1971). The average temperature through the first sixteen days of April was 51.9 degrees, the coldest on record for this time frame.

 

Coldest Average Temperatures From April 1-16 at Little Rock (Pulaski County)
Year Avg Temp
2018 51.9
1983 52.0
1962 53.5
1961 53.6
1951 53.8
1975 53.8
2007 53.9
1881 53.9
1899 54.6
1973 54.6

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather and flash flooding in the Little Rock County Warning Area on April 13-14, 2018 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were numerous reports of tornadoes, damaging winds, large hail, and flash flooding across Arkansas on April 13th/14th. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of severe weather and flash flooding in the Little Rock County Warning Area on April 13-14, 2018 (in red).