Historic Weather Events
About This Page
Several historic events (Severe and Winter weather) have occurred in Arkansas since this website was started in 1996. These events are documented below.
 
The Flooding of Late 2001/Early 2002
 
Thirty six hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/17/2001.
Heavy to excessive rain developed across Arkansas in mid-December, 2001. Over five inches of rain fell in northern sections of the state.
In the picture: Thirty six hour rainfall through 600 am CST on 12/17/2001.

 

Ground water increased rapidly because vegetation was dormant. This greatly increased the concern of flash flooding. Also, rivers in the Little Rock Hydrologic Service Area were already high. This tended to slow the drainage process (from the ground into creeks and eventually into rivers), with high water problems more likely.

 

The culprit producing the heavy rain was a storm system tracking across the southern Plains. The system interacted with a stalled front across Arkansas, with moisture (and rain) pooling around the front.
The pattern in late 2001/early 2002 that led to excessive rain in Arkansas.
In the picture: The pattern in late 2001/early 2002 that led to excessive rain in Arkansas. Fronts headed into Arkansas from the north before stalling. Storm systems ("L") approached from the southwest, and drew warm and moist air northward from the Gulf Coast. Heavy rain tended to focus along and north of the stalled fronts.

 

The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed two distinct heavy rain bands north of a warm front on March 17-20, 2002. A similar situation unfolded in mid-March, 2002 as a front stalled just to the south of the region. As the front pushed slowly to the north on the 17th, warmer air tried to return...and overran cooler conditions across the state. Wet weather occurred through the 20th.  
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed two distinct heavy rain bands north of a warm front on March 17-20, 2002.

 

Three to five inches of rain fell in parts of southern Arkansas in areas such as Camden (Ouachita County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Four to eight inches occurred in northern and western sections of the state, affecting areas from Mena (Polk County) to Booneville (Logan County), Deer (Newton County) and Mountain Home (Baxter County). 

 

Percent of normal rainfall in December, 2001...March, 2002 and May, 2002.
In the picture: Percent of normal rainfall in December, 2001...March, 2002 and May, 2002. The graphics are courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, NC.
 

Due to all of the rain in March (eight to fourteen inch amounts were common), there was not only widespread flash flooding reported...there was also river flooding to follow. The worst flooding was along the Black and White Rivers (northern and eastern Arkansas).

While rainfall was closer to normal in April and May, this was not the case in southern Missouri...with copious amounts of water reported. This water flowed into an already high Black River, which aggravated high water problems. The water also made its way into the Mississippi River, causing the White River to backup. The result was quite a bit of farmland flooding in eastern sections of the state.  

In late May, portions of the Black River reached the highest levels in almost 20 years...with the White River cresting above flood stage at several locations. Because of all of the water, area lakes ran high in northern Arkansas.   

 

Flood Pictures
Walking and driving became difficult to impossible.
In the picture: Water from the White River was very near the shore at Oil Trough (Independence County) on 12/17/2001. Click to enlarge.
North of Grubbs (Jackson County), sandbagging was in progress at a house on Jackson County Road 82 on 12/18/2001.
In the picture: North of Grubbs (Jackson County), sandbagging was in progress at a house on Jackson County Road 82 on 12/18/2001. Click to enlarge.
 
The White River at Batesville (Independence County) completely covered an access road on 03/21/2002.
In the picture: The White River at Batesville (Independence County) completely covered an access road on 03/21/2002. Click to enlarge.
A farm was threatened by water from the White River near Newport (Jackson County) on 04/01/2002.
In the picture: A farm was threatened by water from the White River near Newport (Jackson County) on 04/01/2002. Click to enlarge.
 
A house was flooded on Highway 166 near the Fourche River (flows into the Black River) just northeast of Pocahontas (Randolph County) on 05/22/2002.
In the picture: A house was flooded on Highway 166 near the Fourche River (flows into the Black River) just northeast of Pocahontas (Randolph County) on 05/22/2002. Click to enlarge.
High water covered this playground at Lead Hill Park (Boone County) on Bull Shoals Lake on 06/04/2002.
In the picture: High water covered this playground at Lead Hill Park (Boone County) on Bull Shoals Lake on 06/04/2002. Click to enlarge.

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.