Arkansas Weather

thunderstorm
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Heavy storms featuring high wind speeds swept through Arkansas this past weekend, killing one person and leaving thousands without power.

According to Dennis Cavanaugh, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Little Rock, the storms that hit the state were a part of  the second of two storms systems that hit the southern part of the country this weekend, with the first wave of storms mainly hitting Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

Severe storms swept across much of the Southeast on Sunday, spawning a series of tornadoes that killed at least six people in Mississippi and caused damage in parts of northern Louisiana and Alabama.

The tornadoes were part of a band of severe weather from the Mississippi River to the East Coast, according to the National Weather Service.

At least six people died in Mississippi, where early reports said that a dozen or more tornadoes touched down, according to The Associated Press.

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Despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, long stretches of wet weather are proving to be more of an issue for farmers, but the virus is having an impact.

Jarrod Hardke, rice extension agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, says typically, this would be the beginning of the planting season for rice. However, the excess rain has complicated things.

"The overabundance of rainfall throughout the winter and early spring has the majority of our ground still unprepared for planting at this point," Hardke said.

Damage from what officials say was likely a tornado in north-central Arkansas between the towns of Pyatt and Bruno.
KATV-Channel 7

Severe storms, including at least one possible tornado, have struck parts of Arkansas, damaging homes and causing widespread damage to trees and power lines.

Officials say at least one home was destroyed and another lost its roof to a storm that struck a remote Ozark Mountains area Thursday evening near Pyatt in northern Arkansas, near the Missouri border.

At least one person was sent to a hospital in nearby Harrison, Arkansas, with minor injuries.

The National Weather Service

Arkansas farmers are bracing for another wet winter. Rainfall totals of up to seven inches in parts of the state are already well above average for February. John Lewis, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service, said this wet winter trend began two years ago.

"2018 was the 9th wettest year we’ve ever had in Arkansas, and that goes back to 1895. And 2019 was the 7th wettest, so you had two top 10 wet years in a row and we're certainly starting off that way this year," Lewis said.

Jami Cook
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Levee Task Force formally presented its report to Gov. Asa Hutchinson Tuesday with 17 recommendations, including tying state grants to participation by local levee districts in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Rehabilitation and Inspection Program.

Future legislative actions will be determined over the next year before the next General Assembly meets in 2021, Hutchinson said in a press conference.

National Weather Service

Temperatures in Arkansas are expected to swing from well above average to well below average after a powerful cold front moves through the state. After reaching a high near 70 degrees in Little Rock on Monday, John Lewis, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, says temperatures Tuesday are expected to be cold enough to bring a wintry mix to the area.

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After months of relatively dry weather, parts of Arkansas are now seeing an increased threat from wildfires. The National Weather Service says burn bans have been put in place as the wildfire danger has been going up, primarily affecting the southern half of the state. 

An example of a farmer harvesting soybeans.
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Storms associated with Hurricane Barry are posing problems for Arkansas farmers. Agricultural officials had concerns that heavy rain and winds would damage rice crops, but are now more concerned about damage to soybean crops. Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, says weather over the weekend was not as damaging to rice crops as originally feared.

National Weather Service

The remnants of Hurricane Barry are forecast to move into Arkansas on Sunday. Agriculture officials are concerned the heavy rainfall could be detrimental to the state’s rice crop, which has already been hampered by a wet spring and recent hot weather.

Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, says the crop is extremely vulnerable at this point and that rain could disrupt pollination. 

Storm
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Utility crews are working to restore electricity in central and south Arkansas after a powerful storm hit the state Wednesday night quickly bringing down trees and power lines. Damage is extensive in some areas and Entergy Arkansas warns it could be a few days before power is back on for all customers.

The National Weather Service says the highest wind speed was measured at 64 miles-per-hour, but Meteorologist Sean Clark says tree damage suggests winds exceeded that in some locations.

American Red Cross flooding shelter
Christina Fowler / American Red Cross

With the Arkansas River back below flood stage, the American Red Cross is refocusing its efforts to help victims of the massive flood. Spokeswoman Christina Fowler says the group is closing its final shelter in the state, which is in North Little Rock, on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Two others, located in Fort Smith and Conway, shut down over the weekend. She says that although the shelters are closing their doors, the group will continue working to help.

Flood Toad Suck Arkansas River
KATV-Channel 7

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says four more counties in Arkansas have been approved for disaster assistance as a result of damage from storms and flooding that began May 21.

Heavy rains produced record flooding in the state, especially along the Arkansas River.

FEMA announced that Arkansas, Desha, Logan and Pope counties have been added to a list of eight counties previously approved for federal assistance. The other counties are Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties.

Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson
KARK-TV

Forced to close businesses and evacuate homes after already-significant flood damage, residents of Jefferson County are bracing themselves for the cresting of the Arkansas River. The National Weather Service forecasts the water level to reach a near record-breaking 51 feet in Pine Bluff Thursday night, marking the river’s highest crest since 1943.

Arkansas River flooding
Wes Goodner

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and several counties across Arkansas are continuing to deal with challenges brought by the flooding of the Arkansas River. On Wednesday the river seemed to be cresting in Little Rock at a height of 29.7 feet. Melody Daniel, a spokeswoman with the ADEM, says more rain forecast in central Arkansas could extend the length of time the river crests, but it’s not expected to go higher.

Picture of a tractor on a farm
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While a rainy spring and summer as well as flooding along the Arkansas River has impacted farmers, it has also affected agricultural research in the state. The Agricultural Experiment Station, a part of the The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, has several research stations located across the state. 

Flood Toad Suck Arkansas River
KATV-Channel 7

State emergency officials say the Arkansas River has topped two levees in Arkansas, where historic flooding has inundated some communities.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency Management says flood waters overtopped a levee in Toad Suck, a community about 27 miles northwest of Little Rock. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the levee protects nearly 300 people.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park
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A greater than average amount of rainfall in Arkansas has led to flash flooding and other hazards in the state. It also could lead to potentially risky hiking conditions in state parks.

Pine Bluff tornado
Bill Wingand / KATV-TV

Forecasters have confirmed a small tornado touched down in central Arkansas, damaging two apartment complexes and injuring four people.

The National Weather Service said a twister with winds between 86 and 110 mph lasted for less than a minute Wednesday evening when it hit Pine Bluff.

Meteorologist Thomas Jones says the tornado was about 100 yards wide and traveled for only about a quarter of a mile, but still managed to damage the brick facing and roof of the apartments. Jones says at least two walls caved in.

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Arkansas is expected to get a break from an unusually wet winter, but it may not be enough of a break for farmers.

Some Arkansas counties have received two to three times their average amount of rainfall over the last six months. The frequent and heavy rains have made it difficult for many farmers to work their land. Rice Agronomist Jarrod Hardke with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service says the return of cold weather could offset any relief from the rain.

National Weather Service

Heavy rains are predicted throughout the week for much of Arkansas. According to the National Weather Service, the eastern part of the state could see as much as 8 inches of total accumulation over the next several days.

"What this is likely to cause is prolonged issues with the rivers," said Brian Smith, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service. "We are expecting continued river flooding, especially along the White River, the Black River basin, as well as the Cache River. We could see some flash flooding issues in places as well."

National Weather Service

Another blast of cold air is expected to enter Arkansas Monday. Meteorologist Chuck Rickard with the National Weather Service says temperatures will drop well below freezing, with snow and ice expected in part of the state.

"Parts of southeast Arkansas could see some light snow. It could change over later on tonight once that cold air moves in, but we are not really looking for much in the way of snippy accumulation," Rickard said Monday.

National Weather Service

A weather system the National Weather Service is calling “complicated” will arrive in Arkansas beginning Friday. Arkansans across the state will experience a system that will bring heavy rains for some, and significant snow accumulation for others.

The National Weather Service says widespread precipitation will “overspread” throughout the state in a south to north pattern. As the cold air moves, rain will change to sleet and freezing rain before ultimately changing to snow. The greatest likelihood for accumulations is Friday night through Saturday morning.

thunderstorm
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A strong storm system will sweep through Arkansas Friday through Saturday morning. Southwest and west central Arkansas are the two areas expected to get the worst of it. The storms could possibly bring hail and tornadoes, though strong winds are more likely to occur.

The weather has already postponed high school championship and playoff football games. According to the Arkansas Activities Association, the championship game between Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy will take place on Sunday at War Memorial Stadium.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a freeze watch for most of Arkansas from Friday night through Saturday morning. Temperatures are forecast to drop as low as the mid or lower 20s. Areas as far south as Camden are expected to be impacted.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dennis Cavanaugh says the watch is not a prediction of what this year’s winter will be like.

One hundred utility workers and contractors from Arkansas hit the road Tuesday for the East Coast to help out the states expected to be hit hard by Hurricane Florence.

“A lot of the crew, a lot of the linemen, like going to these storm assignments.  They enjoy the work,” said Kerri Case, a spokesperson for Entergy Arkansas.

She said the Arkansas crew will work on resetting poles, picking up lines that may have blown down and making any general repairs to help restore power as quickly as possible.

National Weather Service

Late summer usually means hot, dry weather in Arkansas, but according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Cook, predictions for the middle of  this month include highs in the 80s and the poential for heavy rain, "which is a little bit unusual." While rainfall is helping the state avoid wildfires, it's a mixed bag for agriculture industry.

National Weather Service

The hottest days of the 2018 summer in Arkansas may still be ahead according to projections by the National Weather Service. Summer months are often characteristically humid and hot, which is no surprise to residents. However, the excessive heat can be damaging to personal health.

An aerial view of a wildfire near Charleston, Arkansas from November, 2017.
Arkansas Forestry Commission

Arkansas fire departments will be better equipped to fight wildfires in the coming months as the state enters what is traditionally the summer wildfire season. The Arkansas Forestry Commission announced Wednesday it had received $200,000 from the U.S. Forest Service to purchase 67 wildfire suppression kits and give them to volunteer fire departments statewide.

Counties in yellow are under "moderate" danger for wildfires as of July 2.
Arkansas Forestry Commission

Rain is in the forecast for much of Arkansas for July 4th, but the potential for wildfires still exists.

Meteorologist Jeff Hood with the National Weather Service said showers should pass through before the evening fireworks shows begin.

"It doesn't look like a rainout, but some parts of the state are going to be dealing with scattered showers and thunderstorms," said Hood. 

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