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Severe Storms on May 15, 2022
 
A cold front approached Arkansas from the north on 05/15/2022. Ahead of the front, severe weather was likely across the state.
In the picture: A cold front approached Arkansas from the north on 05/15/2022. Ahead of the front, severe weather was likely across the state.
 

During the first half of May, it was very warm at times. Through the 14th, temperatures were more than six degrees above average in parts of southern, central, and western Arkansas. At Little Rock (Pulaski County), record high temperatures were tied or broken on five consecutive days (9th through the 13th). The hottest day was the 13th, with a scorching 97 degrees observed. Some relief (cooler air) came on the 15th in the form of a cold front. At the same time, there were strong to severe storms ahead of the front.

 

Departure From Average Temperatures in May, 2022 (through the 14th)
Site Average Temperature Departure (+/-)
Fayetteville (NW AR) 69.0° +6.1°
Harrison (NC AR) 66.6° +2.8°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 69.5° +1.9°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 71.5° +3.5°
Little Rock (C AR) 73.5° +6.1°
West Memphis (EC AR) 72.2° +2.8°
Texarkana (SW AR) 76.7° +7.5°
El Dorado (SC AR) 74.4° +4.9°
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 75.6° +6.4°

 

The sounding (temperature and dewpoint profile with height) at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County) revealed a very unstable atmosphere at 100 pm CDT on 05/15/2022. Saturated air parcels were much warmer than the environmental temperature (arrows to the right of the red line), leading to very high values of CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy/a measure of instability). CAPE is directly related to updraft strength, and the parcels ascended rapidly to make clouds/storms.
In the picture: The sounding (temperature and dewpoint profile with height) at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County) revealed a very unstable atmosphere at 100 pm CDT on 05/15/2022. Saturated air parcels were much warmer than the environmental temperature (arrows to the right of the red line), leading to very high values of CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy/a measure of instability). CAPE is directly related to updraft strength, and the parcels ascended rapidly to make clouds/storms.
 

Storms were sure to thrive given an enormous amount of energy in place. Models showed a line of storms traversing the region from northwest to southeast during the afternoon, and these were expected to unleash strong to damaging winds. Updrafts into some storms were likely to be powerful enough to suspend hailstones aloft, and allow them to grow. So, very large hail was possible. There were already a few hailstorms on the 14th, with lime size hail at Jasper (Newton County), and golf ball size hail at Harrison (Boone County). Tornadoes were much less likely because steering winds were generally weak (30 knots or less), and there was not much shear.

 

In the video: Satellite showed a cluster of strong/severe thunderstorms moving from southwest Missouri into northwest Arkansas by the early afternoon of 05/15/2022.
 

Between 1200 pm and 100 pm CDT, a large cluster of storms arrived from Missouri. Ahead of the cluster, isolated to scattered storms erupted mainly north and west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Golf ball size hail was reported at Boxley (Newton County) and the west side of Russellville (Pope County). There was half dollar size hail at London and just north of Russellville (both in Pope County), and quarter size stones at Chickalah (Yell County), Holiday Island (Carroll County), Nimrod (Perry County), and Paris (Logan County).

 

In the picture: This was the scene at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County) around 400 pm CDT on 05/15/2022. A shelf cloud marked the leading edge of strong to damaging winds, with 45 to 50 mph gusts measured locally.
 

As the afternoon progressed, the cluster of storms worked from northwest into central and southeast Arkansas. Numerous trees and power lines were downed, with some trees on houses. At least 50,000 power outages noted at one point. At Russellville (Pope County), a tree fell on a vehicle, and two people had to be extricated and taken to the hospital. A tree also came down on a travel trailer close to Hazen (Prairie County). Fallen trees blocked Highway 7 near Fourche Junction (Perry County), Highway 46 at Sheridan (Grant County), and Highway 54 at Sulphur Springs (Jefferson County). Roads were blocked by trees at a campground northeast of Fifty Six (Stone County). A roof was blown off of a storage building west of Hot Springs (Garland County).

 

Severe weather and flash flood reports on 05/15/2022.
In the picture: Severe weather and flash flood reports on 05/15/2022. Note: In southeast Arkansas and western Mississippi, the cloud with question mark icon is for dust storm reports.
 

A 65 mph gust was measured west of McMillan Corner (Chicot County). As winds picked up in southeast sections of the state (where drought was recently an issue), there was enough dust kicked up to reduce the visibility to less than a quarter mile in places. Elsewhere, there was a 58 mph gust at the Little Rock Air Force Base (Pulaski County), a 56 mph gust at McCreanor (Lonoke County), a 55 mph gust at Little Rock National Airport (Pulaski County), and a 54 mph gust at the Stuttgart Airport in Fairmount (Prairie County).

 

Temperatures dropped from the 80s at 1200 pm CDT to the 60s at 600 pm CDT across much of northern and central Arkansas on 05/15/2022.
Temperatures at 1200 pm CDT (05/15)  |  Temperatures at 600 pm CDT (05/15)
In the pictures: Temperatures dropped from the 80s at 1200 pm CDT to the 60s at 600 pm CDT across much of northern and central Arkansas on 05/15/2022.
 

Temperatures cooled off in a hurry behind the cluster of storms. Across the northern and central counties, readings were mostly in the 80s at 1200 pm CDT, but were largely in the 60s six hours later.

 

In the video: Following a day of turbulent weather, these mammatus clouds were witnessed near Lincoln (Washington County) toward sunset on 05/15/2022. The video is courtesy of Charles Peek via Twitter.
 

As the cluster of storms exited to the southeast toward evening, more hailstorms bubbled up in eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. Baseball to grapefruit size hail pelted Clearview, OK and Okemah, OK. There were quarter size stones at Farmington and Johnson (both in Washington County).

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather and flash flooding in the Little Rock County Warning Area on May 15, 2022 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were many reports of damaging winds, large hail, and flash flooding on May 15th. 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 May 15, 2022 (in red).