Climate Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
An Historic Cool Period (March through May, 2013)
 

Adding up all of the numbers, it was the fifth coolest March through May (meteorological spring)on record (an average temperature of 57.3 degrees) in Arkansas. The king of cool for this time period was 1960 (56.5 degrees), with 1931 close behind (56.7 degrees).

 

Coolest Springs on Record in Arkansas
Year Avg. Temp
1960 56.5°
1931 56.7°
1924 57.0°
1983 57.0°
2013 57.3°
1993 57.5°
1947 57.6°
1958 57.7°
1971 57.8°

 

Link of Interest
Spring Temperature Stats

 

It was a record cool spring in 2013 at quite a few individual sites, including Brinkley (Monroe County), Malvern (Hot Spring County) and Searcy (White County). Records at these sites date back to 1882.

 

Record Coolest Spring at Individual Sites in Arkansas
Site Avg. Temp Prev. Record Year of Prev. Record Records Since
Brinkley (Monroe Co.) 56.7° 56.9° 1983 1882
Hardy (Sharp Co.) 54.0° 55.7° 2008 1897
Malvern (Hot Spring Co.) 57.7° 57.9° 1960 1882
Newport (Jackson Co.) 55.8° 56.8° 1960 1884
Searcy (White Co.) 56.7° 56.9° 1931 1882
Subiaco (Logan Co.) 57.2° 57.5° 1947 1897

 

Link of Interest
More Spring Site Records

 

A cold front was nearing Arkansas from the Plains at 100 pm CDT on 05/01/2013. For the story behind the records, let's go back to early May. One of many cold fronts during the spring barreled into the region from the north on the 2nd. The front ushered in a heavy dose of Canadian air.
In the picture: A cold front was nearing Arkansas from the Plains at 100 pm CDT on 05/01/2013.

 

By dawn on the 3rd, temperatures in the northwest counties dropped into the lower/mid 30s. Rain changed to snow, and several inches accumulated in spots. A cold front was close to the Mississippi River by 700 am CDT on 05/03/2013.
In the picture: A cold front was close to the Mississippi River by 700 am CDT on 05/03/2013. Much cooler air behind the front resulted in snow across northwest Arkansas.

 

Twenty four hour rain and snow amounts through 100 pm CDT on 05/03/2013.
In the picture: Twenty four hour precipitation amounts through 100 pm CDT on 05/03/2013. While it was snowing in the northwest, more than three inches of rain dumped in the east along the Mississippi River. At Jonesboro (Craighead County), for example, 3.17 inches of rain closed Highway 226 west of town due to high water.
 

One to three inches of snow was common in portions of Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Washington Counties. Locally up to 5 inches piled up near Decatur, with 3 to 4 inches at Gentry, Gravette and Siloam Springs (all in Benton County). Farther east toward Beaver and Eureka Springs (both in Carroll County), 1 to 2 inches was measured, with a half inch to an inch from Omaha (Boone County) to Compton (Newton County).

 

Roughly four inches of snow piled up around Gravette (Benton County) on 05/03/13.

According to official records, there had not been any snow across Arkansas this late in the spring until this event. The previous latest snow was on April 30, 1903. On that day, only trace amounts occurred at Fayetteville (Washington County), Gravette (Benton County) and Harrison (Boone County).

In the picture: Roughly four inches of snow piled up around Gravette (Benton County) on 05/03/13. The photo is courtesy of Drew Michaels. Click to enlarge.

 

There was a little more snow in the northwest early on the 4th as a big storm system aloft wobbled into the area from the Plains. Moisture was limited by this time, but cold air overhead surrounding the system helped support snow (rather than rain). A few spots got over an inch of powder, with most reports under a half inch.

A large area of low pressure ("L") was over northwest Arkansas at 700 am CDT on 05/04/2013.
In the picture: A large area of low pressure ("L") was over northwest Arkansas at 700 am CDT on 05/04/2013. Very cold air was associated with the low. Temperatures at 500 mb (18,000 feet) were around -24 degrees C (-10 degrees F). Without the presence of the low, readings would have been closer to -15 degrees C (5 degrees F).

 

All-time May temperature records fell during this event. At Harrison (Boone County), the high temperature on the 3rd was only 38 degrees. This was the coldest May maximum since records began in 1891. Similar records were snapped at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Russellville (Pope County), with a high of only 52 degrees at both sites (records go back to 1883 and 1882 respectively). On the 4th, the cold high record at Hardy (Sharp) which was set in 1899 was shattered by more than ten degrees.

 

Record Coldest High Temperatures (May 3-5, 2013)
Site Temp/Date Prev. Record Date of Prev. Record Records Since
Booneville (Logan Co.)* 46° (05/05) 50° 05/03/2011 1906
Conway (Faulkner Co.)* 39° (05/04) 49° 05/02/2011 1884
Hardy (Sharp Co.)* 40° (05/04) 50° 05/24/1899 1897
Harrison (Boone Co.) 38° (05/03) 45° 05/02/2011 1891
Mountain Home 1NNW (Baxter Co.)* 38° (05/04) 49° 05/03/2011 1902
Pine Bluff (Jefferson Co.) 52° (05/03) 56° 05/02/2011 1883
Russellville (Pope Co.) 52° (05/03) 53° 05/02/2011 1882
* - These stations report at the end of the 24-hour period ending at 7 or 8 am. The high temperatures shown occurred on the previous day. The remaining stations report midnight to midnight, with the highs occurring on the dates indicated.

 

At Little Rock (Pulaski County), 39 degrees was the standing record low temperature for the month set on the 1st in 1903. That was broken on the 3rd and 4th with a low of 38 degrees (records began in 1879). Leola (Grant County) had a freeze (32 degrees) on the 4th, and the minimum at Searcy (White County) was 34 degrees. Both were record lows for May, with the latter site in existence since 1882.

The daily average temperature on the 3rd was a stunning 35 degrees at Harrison (Boone County), easily beating the record for the month of 41 degrees on the 1st in 1909.

 

 

Cold air was no stranger in April either. While there was significant heating at times ahead of incoming fronts (temperatures in the 70s/80s) and a few rounds of severe storms (with six tornadoes counted), there was substantial cooling to follow and an occasional freeze.

The latest freeze occurred on the 25th. The thermometer bottomed out at 28 degrees at Lead Hill (Boone County), with 29 degrees at Evening Shade (Sharp County) and Waldron (Scott County). This was the latest freeze since 1960 at Booneville (Logan County), and 1963 at Batesville Lock and Dam (Independence County) and Harrison (Boone County).

 

 

Early in April (on the 2nd through the 5th), daytime readings in some areas failed to climb out of the 40s. Record cold high temperatures were set, with a few previous records dating back to the late 1800s.

 

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a large area of showers and scattered thunderstorms across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas at 1200 pm CDT on 04/26/2013.

When there were no big fronts around, areas of clouds and rain helped keep afternoon readings down. On the 26th, for example, readings had difficulty getting out of the 50s/60s in most areas (normal highs are in the 70s).

In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed a large area of showers and scattered thunderstorms across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas at 1200 pm CDT on 04/26/2013.

 

Average temperatures were generally 1 to 3 degrees below normal for the month. This was on the heels of a cool March with departures 3 to 6 degrees on the minus side.

 

Average Temperatures in April, 2013 
Site Avg. Temp +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 55.3° -1.5°
Harrison (NC AR) 56.2° -1.8°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 58.3° -1.6°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 60.9° -0.7°
Little Rock (C AR) 60.1° -2.0°
West Memphis (EC AR) 59.3° -1.9°
Texarkana (SW AR) 61.6° -2.3°
El Dorado (SC AR) 60.9° -2.5°
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 60.2° -2.8°

 

Combining the two months (March 1st through April 30th), average temperatures over a 61-day span were the lowest on record in spots. This was the case at Booneville (Logan County), Brinkley (Monroe County), Hardy (Sharp County), Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), Newport (Jackson County) and Subiaco (Logan County). These sites have been in existence for more than 100 years.

 

Record Coolest Average Temperatures (March 1 - April 30, 2013)
Site Avg. Temp Prev. Record Year of Prev. Record Records Since
Booneville (Logan Co.) 51.9° 52.8° 1960 1906
Brinkley (Monroe Co.) 51.2° 51.8° 1983 1882
Hardy (Sharp Co.) 48.8° 51.0° 2008 1897
Mammoth Spring (Fulton Co.) 47.2° 47.4° 1996 1904
Newport (Jackson Co.) 50.4° 51.3° 1996 1884
Subiaco (Logan Co.) 51.5° 52.6° 1947 1897

 

 

Looking more closely at March, it was much different than the mild conditions experienced the same time in 2012.

 

Average Temperatures in March (2012-2013)
Site 2013 +/- 2012 +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 44.0° -4.1° 57.9° +9.8°
Harrison (NC AR) 44.0° -4.8° 60.5° +11.7°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 44.9° -5.3° 62.8° +12.6°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 49.7° -3.2° 63.6° +10.7°
Little Rock (C AR) 49.0° -4.4° 64.3° +10.9°
West Memphis (EC AR) 45.7° -5.8° 62.5° +11.0°
Texarkana (SW AR) 52.5° -3.4° 64.8° +8.9°
El Dorado (SC AR) 50.9° -4.9° 63.0° +7.2°
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 48.9° -5.5° 64.6° +10.2°

 

Here are some interesting March, 2013 facts...

 
* North Little Rock (Pulaski County) had no 80 degree days for the first time since 2001.
* The high temperature at North Little Rock (Pulaski County) was at or below 50 degrees 10 times. This was the most on record locally (since data collection began in 1975).
* Average high temperatures (in the mid to upper 50s) were the coldest on record at Clarendon (Monroe County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County).
* Harrison (Boone County) had 19 days with low temperatures at or below freezing. This was the most since 1978 (20 days).
* Cabot (Lonoke County) and Leola (Grant County) had 17 freezes, which was the most on record at both locations.
* The 4.5 inches of snow that fell at Greers Ferry Dam (Cleburne County) was the second most on record for the month.

 

 

The Arctic Oscillation (AO) Index was strongly negative in March, 2013.
In the picture: The Arctic Oscillation (AO) Index was strongly negative in March, 2013.
 

Why was it so cold? The reason may have a lot to do with the Arctic Oscillation (AO). This is an index that is positive or negative depending on pressure toward the North Pole (from 20 degrees N latitude poleward) versus the mid-latitudes (where we live). In March, the index was the most negative on record (since 1950) for the month. There was higher than normal pressure up north and lower than normal pressure around here. Since air tends to flow from high to low pressure, storm systems tended to dive southward from Canada.

 

 

A lack of springlike air kept severe storms to a minimum for awhile. There were no tornadoes in March, and only six tornadoes (mostly weak) for the year heading into April.


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