How Dry Is It?
Abnormally Dry Conditions
At times, below normal precipitation will lead to a lack of ground water and worsening drought conditions in Arkansas. Check out the latest conditions below.
 
Monitoring Drought in Arkansas
 
Drought Status
 
Moderate to severe (D1/D2) conditions were identified from central into northeast Arkansas on 02/24/2015.

Moderate to severe (D1/D2) drought conditions existed from central into northeast Arkansas in late February, 2015. Much of the state was abnormally dry (D0).

 
Drought Conditions (Percent Area)
Category Coverage
None 17.47%
D0-D4 82.53%
D1-D4 19.99%
D2-D4 4.55%
D3-D4 0%
D4 0%
In the picture: Moderate to severe (D1/D2) conditions were identified from central into northeast Arkansas on 02/24/2015.
 
 
While February, 2015 was not ridiculously dry through the 26th, it appeared that most of the region was going to finish the month with below normal precipitation. This would make the fourth month in the row with precipitation in the minus category.

 

Precipitation in February, 2015 (Through the 26th)
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.59 2.59 -1.00 61%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.50 2.44 -0.94 61%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 3.33 3.46 -0.13 96%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.95 2.55 -0.60 76%
Little Rock (C AR) 3.84 3.37 +0.47 114%
West Memphis (EC AR) 3.78 4.18 -0.40 90%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.85 3.69 +0.16 104%
El Dorado (SC AR) 3.76 4.45 -0.69 84%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 3.32 3.72 -0.40 89%

 

Streamflow was well below normal, or less than the 10th percentile (dark red dots), at many sites in northern and central Arkansas on 02/08/2015.
In the picture: Streamflow was well below normal, or less than the 10th percentile (dark red dots), at many sites in northern and central Arkansas on 02/08/2015. This was alarming given that vegetation was dormant and consuming little ground water. Values in the 25th to 75th percentile (light green dots) are considered normal. The graphic is courtesy of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 
 

The streak of dry months almost came to an end in January, with 125 to 250 percent of normal precipitation through the first half of the month (with the exception of the extreme east and the far northwest). In the second half, surpluses shrank and deficits became common.  

 

Precipitation in January, 2015
Site Amount (Jan 1-15) +/- % of Normal Amount (Jan 1-31) +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 1.03 -0.36 74% 1.11 -1.73 39%
Harrison (NC AR) 1.68 +0.42 133% 1.82 -0.74 71%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 1.45 -0.20 88% 1.50 -1.93 44%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 1.75 +0.44 134% 2.22 -0.59 79%
Little Rock (C AR) 2.82 +1.03 158% 2.97 -0.58 84%
West Memphis (EC AR) 1.26 -0.72 64% 1.61 -2.57 39%
Texarkana (SW AR) 3.69 +2.00 218% 4.24 +0.84 125%
El Dorado (SC AR) 4.11 +2.13 208% 4.89 +0.59 114%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 3.27 +1.50 185% 3.61 -0.15 96%

 

It was very dry in November and December, and this is when drought concerns began. 2014 ended with below normal numbers pretty much statewide, with yearly deficits over ten inches in some cases (especially in the southwest).

 

Precipitation in 2014
Site Amount Normal +/- % of Normal
Fayetteville (NW AR) 39.08 48.51 -9.43 81%
Harrison (NC AR) 41.20 44.14 -2.94 93%
Jonesboro (NE AR) 44.15 48.10 -3.95 92%
Fort Smith (WC AR) 42.14 45.46 -3.32 93%
Little Rock (C AR) 48.13 49.75 -1.62 97%
West Memphis (EC AR) 49.08 52.23 -3.15 94%
Texarkana (SW AR) 35.24 49.65 -14.41 71%
El Dorado (SC AR) 41.03 52.92 -11.89 78%
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 41.41 51.15 -9.74 81%

 

Percent of normal precipitation in 2014.
In the picture: Percent of normal precipitation in 2014.

 

Drought conditions as of 02/24/2015.
In the picture: Drought conditions as of 02/24/2015.
 

We are going from long-term neutral conditions (near normal water temperatures near the equator in the Pacific Ocean) to a weak El Niño (warmer than normal water). This does not bode well heading into the growing season, with a lack of rain during spring in recent El Niño years.

 

Recent El Niño Springs (March through May) in Arkansas
Year Precip (Inches) +/-
2010 12.25 -2.71
2007 9.55 -5.41
2005 9.55 -5.41
2003 11.48 -3.48
1998 12.43 -2.53
1995 14.40 -0.56
Note: Normal spring precipitation for Arkansas is 14.96 inches.

 

Drought outlook through May, 2015.
In the picture: Drought outlook through May, 2015.
 

The drought situation will be monitored closely in the coming weeks. The going forecast for the state calls for drought to remain but improve in the northeast through May, 2015.

Drought has been a common theme locally since 2010. The southwest has fared the worst, with just short of a five foot (58.70 inches) rainfall deficit at Texarkana (Miller County) in a four year span (through 2013).

 

Precipitation Statistics (2010-2013)
Site 2013 +/- 2012 +/- 2011 +/- 2010 +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 46.63 -1.88 34.29 -14.22 56.15 +7.64 42.15 -3.87
Harrison (NC AR) 45.26 +1.12 29.53 -14.61 52.01 +7.87 46.12 +0.92
Jonesboro (NE AR) 52.42 +4.32 33.57 -14.53 58.05 +9.95 32.22 -13.96
Fort Smith (WC AR) 47.05 +1.59 33.94 -11.52 46.56 +1.10 35.27 -8.60
Little Rock (C AR) 52.78 +3.03 42.25 -7.50 60.23 +10.48 36.52 -14.41
West Memphis (EC AR) 54.47 +2.24 39.08 -13.15 55.95 +2.37 51.83 -0.97
Texarkana (SW AR) 45.34 -4.31 32.07 -17.58 30.69 -18.96 29.53 -17.85
El Dorado (SC AR) 47.49 -5.43 44.41 -8.51 37.62 -15.30 34.23 -19.88
Pine Bluff (SE AR) 52.66 +1.51 45.69 -5.46 48.70 -2.45 31.97 -20.51

 

There were some drought breakers along the way, such as a deluge from mid-November to mid-December, 2011.

 

Twelve to more than eighteen inches of rain was measured from Mena (Polk County) to Mount Ida (Montgomery County), Russellville (Pope County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Jonesboro (Craighead County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County). Thirty day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/11/2011.
In the picture: Thirty day rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/11/2011.

 

Hurricane Isaac was just off the coast of Louisiana at 425 pm CDT on 08/28/2012.

Hurricane Isaac brought much needed rain to southern and eastern Arkansas in late August, 2012. Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) had 8.39 inches in the forty eight hour period ending at 700 am CDT on September 1st.

In the picture: Hurricane Isaac was just off the coast of Louisiana at 425 pm CDT on 08/28/2012.

 

In September, 2013, areas from Little Rock (Pulaski County) southward got two to four inches of rain, with locally over six inches on the 19th/20th. Some of these amounts exceeded what would normally be expected during the entire month. This busted a short term extreme (D3) drought that peaked just a few days prior to the rain.

 

Precipitation Trends

 

Streamflow and Soil Moisture
 
Most recent streamflow (values in the 25th to 75th percentile are normal)
Most recent soil moisture (values between 30 and 70 percent are normal)

 

Fire Danger

 

The Forecast

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