Climate Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
Arkansas Yearly Climate Summary (2009)/Pg1
 
Introduction
 
If you could sum up the year 2009 in one word, it would probably be "wet" or "rainy". Arkansas received 125% to 175% of normal rainfall. It was the wettest year on record (1957 was second wettest). There was widespread flash flooding and top 10 crests were established on area rivers.

The year began with an historic and destructive ice storm across northern sections of the state in January. A foot of snow blanketed portions of the northeast in February. Heading into Spring, severe weather was minimal at first, with no tornadoes through the first few days of April. That all changed on the 9th, with a deadly tornado (3 fatalities) at Mena (Polk County). This was one of 45 tornadoes for the year, which was above the annual average of 26 tornadoes. The big wind and hail events for the year both occurred in June. A derecho (long-lived wind damage event) on the 12th was followed by a swath of quarter to baseball size hail in central Arkansas (Lonoke and Pulaski Counties) on the 30th.

As you read various weather accounts, you may not be familiar with where events occurred in the Little Rock County Warning Area. To help you along, refer to a map by clicking here. Onward we go...

 

Links of Interest
Storms of 2009 (in PDF)
Note: This is a file with lists of significant events (tornadoes, damaging winds, hail, etc) during the year in Arkansas.
Year 2009 (Little Rock)
Year 2009 (North Little Rock)
Year 2009 (Harrison)
Year 2009 (Pine Bluff)

 

Record Rainfall
 
One of the biggest stories in a very active 2008 was water, and a lot of it. Looking back at rainfall records, there were three (3) reporting sites in Arkansas that reached 80 inches for the year. In 2009, there were more than a dozen sites. Two sites reached 90 inches, and Leola (Grant County) had 100.05 inches (a statewide record)!

 

Link of Interest
Leola Record Recognized

 

Rainfall in 2009
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Harrison (NC AR) 61.23 (6) 45.20 +16.03 135%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 75.95 (1) 46.18 +29.77 164%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 56.46 (12) 43.87 +12.59 129%
Little Rock (C AR) 81.79 (1) 50.93 +30.86 161%
Texarkana (SW AR) 78.09 (1) 47.38 +30.71 165%
El Dorado (SC AR) 73.10 (3) 54.11 +18.99 135%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 78.02 (2) 52.48 +25.54 149%
Note: Numbers in parentheses after precipitation amounts indicate rankings. For example, (3) is the 3rd wettest year on record.

 

Departure from normal rainfall in 2009. Most areas from southwest through central and northeast Arkansas had surpluses of 15 to 30 inches.
In the picture: Departure from normal rainfall in 2009. It was the wettest year on record at the locations plotted.

 

Link of Interest
Rainfall Records in 2009

 

The months with the most rain were May (wettest on record), July (third wettest), September (second wettest) and October (wettest). There was a lot of rain across much of the region in December as well, but totals in the northwest were subpar (lowering the statewide rank).

 

Wettest on Record in Arkansas
Month Rank
May 1st
July 3rd
September 2nd
October 1st
December 22nd
Note: Ranks are courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC.

 

At Little Rock (Pulaski County), these months accounted for 73 percent of the annual total (60.04 of 81.79 inches). Normally, 41 percent of the total (21.03 of 50.93 inches) is measured during these months.
Percent (%) of the total rainfall (81.79 inches) in 2009 for each month at Little Rock (Pulaski County).
In the picture: Percent (%) of the total rainfall (81.79 inches) in 2009 for each month at Little Rock (Pulaski County). The top five months are ranked.

 

Percent Rainfall at Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 2009
Month 2009 (Inches/Percent) Normal (Inches/Percent)
May 13.06/16% 5.05/10%
July 11.65/14% 3.31/6%
September 6.44/8% 3.71/7%
October 16.56/20% 4.25/8%
December 12.33/15% 4.71/9%
Note: In 2009, there were 60.04 inches of precipitation during the months indicated, which accounted for 73% of the annual total (81.79 inches). Normally, there should have been 21.03 inches of precipitation, which is 41% of the annual total (50.93 inches).

 

Power repair crews were out in boats to restore service following a tornado 1 mile south of Louann (Ouachita County) on 10/29/2009. Rainfall was the most impressive in October, with 10 to more than 20 inches inches common across the state. It was the wettest month since January, 1937.
In the picture: Power repair crews were out in boats to restore service following a tornado 1 mile south of Louann (Ouachita County) on 10/29/2009. Click to enlarge.

 

Link of Interest
Record Rainfall in October

 

A couple of big events were noted in October. On the 8th/9th, two to four inches of rain and locally more than six inches fell in northern and western Arkansas. On the 29th/30th, there were similar amounts across the eastern half of the state. Both events focused around stalled fronts, with precipitation essentially fixed along the fronts for hours at a time.  The pattern at 700 am CDT on 10/09/2009.
In the picture: The pattern at 700 am CDT on 10/09/2009. A baroclinic zone marked by a tight temperature gradient (yellow lines) was the focus for a widespread heavy rain event.

 

Rivers were above flood stage or expected to exceed flood stage at numerous sites in central and eastern Arkansas on 10/30/2009. Following the latter event, flood stages were exceeded at numerous forecast points along area tributaries. Top 10 crests were reached on the Spring and Little Red Rivers. The lower White, Cache and Ouachita Rivers experienced moderate flooding for a prolonged period.
In the picture: Rivers were above flood stage or expected to exceed flood stage at numerous sites in central and eastern Arkansas on 10/30/2009.

 

Top 10 Record Crests in 2009
Location River Flood Stage (ft) Crest (ft) Date/Time Rank
Hardy (Sharp Co) Spring 10 17.41 10/30 4
Imboden (Lawrence Co) Spring 18 26.55 10/30 6
Judsonia (White Co) Little Red 30 35.39 10/31 7
36.94 12/25 4
Benton (Saline Co) Saline 18 27.63 12/24 4
Camden (Ouachita Co) Ouachita 26 39.12 05/10 10
41.16 12/28 6

 

Another huge episode unfolded in mid-September. A storm system wobbled from eastern Texas into southwest Arkansas on the 15th through the 19th. The pattern at 700 am CDT on 09/14/2009.
In the picture: The pattern at 700 am CDT on 09/14/2009. A storm system aloft ("L") was over northeast Texas, with a ridge of high pressure in the eastern United States and a building ridge in the Rockies keeping the system nearly stationary.

 

Rainfall amounts exceeded 10 inches in parts of the south (mainly Calhoun and Ouachita Counties), with three to five inch totals common. This is somewhat remarkable considering there is often a tropical system involved when there is this much precipitation in September. On the 16th, Little Rock (Pulaski County) was assured of above normal precipitation for 2009. On that day, totals exceeded 51 inches for the year (50.93 inches is the annual average).

 

Seventy two hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/25/2009. In December, a powerful Winter storm brought blizzard conditions from the Plains into the upper Midwest just before Christmas. In Arkansas, there was excessive rain in the same areas that were hit in late October. Some spots measured more than 8 inches of precipitation from the 22nd through the 25th.
In the picture: Seventy two hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/25/2009. "E" is estimated.

 

This much rain resulted in numerous flooded roads, and some road closures. Interstate 30 was shut down for a time just southwest of Little Rock (Pulaski County), as was U.S. Highway 67/167 from Sherwood (Pulaski County) to Cabot (Lonoke County). Some people were stranded in high water, and had to be rescued.

The Little Red River was on the way up again. Water levels were more than a foot higher than in late October. One resident just outside of Searcy (White County) watched the water climb four rows of cinder blocks toward her home on Christmas Eve. The river crested just under 37 feet (the 4th highest crest on record) early on Christmas Day, and was within of inch of spilling into her living space. Fortunately, she stayed dry.

Crops across the state were not as fortunate. Crop losses have been estimated at more than $300 million. An unusually wet Spring led to late planting. Harvesting was delayed in the Fall due to more rain. Many crops were inundated by water, and could not be salvaged.

 

Links of Interest
September 15-19, 2009 (more on the event)
October 29-30, 2009 (more on the event)
December 24, 2009 (flood pictures)

 

More Information
 
There is more concerning 2009, including a devastating ice storm and an above average number of tornadoes. To check out the rest of the story, click here.

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