Climate Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
Heavy Rain on March 17-19, 2008
 
Historic High Water
 
Much of the region was impacted by this heavy rain to high water event. Arguably, the last event of this magnitude occurred in December, 1982.

 

The pattern at 12 pm CDT on 03/18/2008, with precipitable water values increasing markedly ahead of a storm system ("L") in Texas. Very heavy rain began developing late on the 17th in northern and western Arkansas, and continued on the 18th/early on the 19th as a powerful storm system approached from Texas.
In the picture: The pattern at 12 pm CDT on 03/18/2008, with precipitable water values increasing markedly ahead of a storm system ("L") in Texas. Precipitable water, or water vapor contained in a vertical column of at atmosphere, is normally between .50" and .75" in mid-March. These values were more than doubled during this event.

 

Precipitable Water Values at North Little Rock (Pulaski County)
Date Time Value (Inches)
March 16, 2008 7 pm CDT 0.49
March 17, 2008 7 am CDT 0.73
March 17, 2008 7 pm CDT 1.28
March 18, 2008 7 am CDT 1.38
March 18, 2008 1 pm CDT 1.58

 

 

The system dredged copious moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and sent it toward Arkansas with a deep southerly wind flow. Well above normal precipitable water was noted, which enhanced rainfall efficiency across the region.

By 4 pm CDT on the 18th, two to five inches of rain was common in the northern and western counties...with locally over five inches of rain (especially in Newton and Searcy Counties).

 
Widespread heavy rain was occurring in northern and western Arkansas of 4 pm CDT on 03/18/2008, with numerous Flash Flood Warnings in effect.
In the picture: Widespread heavy rain was occurring in northern and western Arkansas of 4 pm CDT on 03/18/2008, with numerous Flash Flood Warnings in effect. The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) estimated more than five inches in some spots.
 

Very serious flash flooding was occurring across the north and west, with several highways closed and roads washed out. Water was flowing into homes in some areas, including Everton (Boone County). The water was already affecting area tributaries, with rapidly rising water on portions of the Buffalo, White and Spring Rivers.

At Calico Rock (Izard County), evacuations were under way along the White River with water expected to far exceed the flood stage. Evacuations were also taking place at Hardy (Sharp County), with the Spring River already above the flood stage.

By 530 pm CDT, many roads were closed in Stone County. Local law enforcement officials were urging people not to drive in the county.

 

Spring River at Hardy (Sharp County)/Flood Stage 10 Feet
Date Time Stage (ft)
March 18, 2008 630 am CDT 5.08
March 18, 2008 1030 am CDT 7.32
March 18, 2008 230 pm CDT 12.83
March 18, 2008 630 pm CDT 18.42
March 18, 2008 1030 pm CDT 20.47
March 19, 2008 230 am CDT 21.07
March 19, 2008 630 am CDT 22.13
March 19, 2008 1030 am CDT 20.81
March 19, 2008 230 pm CDT 18.86
March 19, 2008 630 pm CDT 17.05
Note: The river crested at 22.29 feet at 730 am CDT on the 19th.

 

 

By 7 am CDT on the 19th, four to six inches of rain was measured north and west of Little Rock (Pulaski County)...with locally over eight inches. Twenty four hour rainfall through 7 am CDT on 03/19/2008.
In the picture: Twenty four hour rainfall through 7 am CDT on 03/19/2008.

 

Links of Interest
Detailed Precipitation Map (Arkansas)
Zoomed Out Precipitation Map (Southern U.S.)
Rainfall Totals/Records (17th through the 19th)
Record Rainfall in March

 

On the morning of the 19th, people stranded by high water were being rescued by helicopter between Flippin (Marion County) and Fairview (Marion County). Near Timbo (Stone County), a man was missing after his vehicle was swept off the road by flood waters. Another man was missing near West Fork (Washington County) after he tried to drive through a low water crossing. The bodies of both men were eventually found (on the 22nd and 29th respectively).

 

Keys to Flooding
(1) Heavy rain/heavy snow fell across much of northern Arkansas on March 2nd through the 4th, followed by another heavy snow event on the 6th/7th. The ground was nearly saturated, and could not hold much more water.
(2) Vegetation was mostly dormant, with little use of available ground water. This allowed runoff to increase more quickly once heavy rain began.
(3) Well above normal moisture levels created more water to wring out of the atmosphere. This elevated the likelihood of heavy to excessive rain.

 

The Buffalo River was running high along the Highway 14 bridge in southern Marion County on 03/19/2008. During this time frame, major flooding was occurring along the Buffalo River at St. Joe (Searcy County) and the Spring River at Hardy (Spring River). River levels in both locations were in the Top 5 highest crests on record.
In the picture: The Buffalo River was running high along the Highway 14 bridge in southern Marion County on 03/19/2008. The picture is courtesy of David Martin. Click to enlarge.

 

Crests Along the Buffalo, Spring, Black and White Rivers
Location River Crest (ft) Flood Stage (ft) Date/Time Rank
St. Joe (Searcy Co) Buffalo 49.41 27 03/19 (8 am CDT) 3
Hardy (Sharp Co) Spring 22.29 10 03/19 (730 am CDT) 1
Calico Rock (Izard Co) White 39.64 19 03/20 (1215 am CDT) NA
Batesville (Independence Co) White 27.00 15 03/20 (9 am CDT) 8T
Corning (Clay Co) Black 15.92 15 03/22 (6 am CDT) 2
Pocahontas (Randolph Co) Black 26.52 17 03/22 (6 pm CDT) 2
Black Rock (Lawrence Co) Black 29.71 14 03/20 (3 am CDT) 4
Newport (Jackson Co) White 33.98 26 03/21 (12 pm CDT) 6
Augusta (Woodruff Co) White 38.41 26 03/22 (9 pm CDT) 4
Georgetown (White Co) White 30.18 21 03/24 (6 am CDT) 7
Des Arc (Prairie Co) White 33.74 24 03/25 (11 pm CDT) 4
Clarendon (Monroe Co) White 33.04 26 03/29 (3 pm CDT) 5
Note: "NA" is not in the Top 10 crests. "T" is tied.

 

Link of Interest
Historic Flood Crests

 

Major flooding impacted locations along the upper White River as well...including Calico Rock (Izard County), Batesville (Independence County) and Newport (Jackson County). River levels at the latter two locations were in the Top 10 highest crests on record (on the 20th/21st).

On the Black River, runoff from excessive rain in southeast Missouri made its way into northeast Arkansas. Near record crests occurred at Corning (Clay County) and Pocahontas (Randolph County) on the 22nd.

 

A Serious Situation
On the 22nd, the Black River was at its highest level in at least 60 years. Water from the Black River and the upper reaches of the White River were flowing into the lower White River during the last week in March. High water from the Black and upper White Rivers ended up in the lower reaches of the White River, with days of flooding.
In the picture: High water from the Black and upper White Rivers ended up in the lower reaches of the White River, with days of flooding.

 

It was taking time for all of this water to flow downstream, given that the lower White River was already running high. Given this, widespread flooding persisted as March ended from Pocahontas (Randolph County) southward through Black Rock (Lawrence County), Newport (Jackson County), Augusta (Woodruff County), Georgetown (White County), Des Arc (Prairie County) and Clarendon (Monroe County).

At Georgetown (White County), the only road into town (Highway 36) was closed as of 6 am CDT on the 22nd...and remained impassible as the month closed.

During the evening of the 22nd, a levee was breached near Pocahontas (Randolph County)...with water spilling into small communities south of town.

 

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather and flash flooding in the Little Rock County Warning Area on March 17-19, 2008 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
Widespread flash flood occurred in much of the northern half of Arkansas on March 18th and into the 19th. For a look at some reports, click here.
In the picture: Preliminary reports of flash flooding in the Little Rock County Warning Area on March 18-19, 2008 (in red).

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