Climate Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
 Snow and Cold (January through March, 2010)/Pg1
 
A ridge of high pressure to the west and a trough of low pressure to the east created a northwest wind flow right out of Canada on 01/05/2010.
It was a cold beginning to the year in Arkansas, with much below normal temperatures across the region. Why was it so cold?
In the picture: A ridge of high pressure to the west and a trough of low pressure to the east created a northwest wind flow right out of Canada on 01/05/2010. Much below normal temperatures were experienced across the central United States, including Arkansas. The graphic is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK.

 

First, unusually warm water was noted in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This is characteristic of El Niño, and affects the weather pattern in parts of the country. A ridge of high pressure often builds from the Rockies westward, and the Polar Jet is shunted well to the north and east of Arkansas. Arctic cold fronts become less frequent in the middle of the country, with warmer than normal conditions common. However, it was not exactly warm...so what happened? 

There was a second variable to consider. In much of January and February, sea-level pressures were rather high over the Arctic Ocean (from 20 degrees N poleward). This led to lower pressure in the mid-latitudes and a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) index. Given a very low AO, a trough of low pressure formed in the eastern United States...and kept the Polar Jet from being displaced. There was a flow from Canada right into Arkansas.

 

Average Temperatures
Site Temp (Jan) +/- Temp (Feb) +/-
Fayetteville (NW AR) 33.0° -1.3° 32.7° -7.0°
Harrison (NC AR) 32.9° -2.0° 33.3° -6.9°
Jonesboro (NE AR) 34.0° -1.6° 34.9° -5.9°
Fort Smith (WC AR) 36.9° -1.1° 37.9° -5.8°
Little Rock (C AR) 38.8° -1.3° 38.2° -7.0°
West Memphis (EC AR) 36.7° -0.8° 37.4° -5.1°
Texarkana (SW AR) 40.5° -3.8° 40.7° -8.9°
El Dorado (SC AR) 40.4° -3.2° 40.9° -7.4°
Monticello (SE AR) 39.4° -1.1° 40.0° -4.9°

 

As colder air poured into the region, storm systems began forming in the southwest United States in late January and early February. The systems were surrounded by plenty of moisture (tapped from the Gulf of Mexico), which was converted into heavy wintry precipitation...especially over the northern half of Arkansas.

 

One such system arrived on January 28th/29th. Cold air was shallow initially, with melting occurring in warmer (above freezing) air aloft. Given this, there was a period of freezing rain. There was a quarter to three quarters of an inch of glaze in portions of central and southern Arkansas. Shallow cold air with the incoming front, and warmer air aloft yielded several precipitation types at 600 am CST on 01/29/2010.
In the picture: Shallow cold air with the incoming front, and warmer air aloft yielded several precipitation types at 600 am CST on 01/29/2010. By that time, temperatures were below freezing from the ground up at Harrison (Boone County), with all snow falling. Toward Little Rock (Pulaski County), there was some melting overhead...followed by refreezing near the ground and freezing rain/sleet. Rain occurred at Monticello (Drew County) as temperatures stayed above 32 degrees.

 

Numerous power outages were noted from Hot Springs (Garland County) to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Stuttgart (Arkansas County). Breezy north to northeast winds along with icing on power lines may have contributed to the outages. At least 30,000 customers were left without power statewide.

As colder air deepened, and there was less melting aloft...snow and sleet fell. Eight to twelve inches of accumulation was reported toward the Missouri border.

 

Link of Interest
Record Snowfall in January

 

A storm system ("L") from the southwest spread moisture into Arkansas as an Arctic cold front pushed into the region from the northwest on 02/08/2010.
Yet another system affected the region a little over a week later. Precipitation began spreading across the region from the west late on February 7th/early on the 8th, with snow across northern Arkansas and a mix in central sections.
In the picture: A storm system ("L") from the southwest spread moisture into Arkansas as an Arctic cold front pushed into the region from the northwest on 02/08/2010.

 

Slow warming occurred ahead of the system, leading to the varying precipitation types...and holding down snow accumulations somewhat. In the far south, it was too warm for anything but rain. Roughly five inches of snow had piled up in Sherwood (Pulaski County) by 1245 pm CST on 02/08/2010.
In the picture: Roughly five inches of snow had piled up in Sherwood (Pulaski County) by 1245 pm CST on 02/08/2010. However, at the time of the photo, rain was falling. Click to enlarge.

 

Heavy snow (3 to 6 inches and locally up to 10 inches) accumulated in most areas from Little Rock (Pulaski County) northward.

 

 

Forty eight hour precipitation (liquid) through 700 am CST on 02/09/2010. There was a lot of water associated with the system. As far as liquid precipitation, 1 to more than 2 inches was measured in the southern half of the state.
In the picture: Forty eight hour precipitation (liquid) through 700 am CST on 02/09/2010.

 

Where frozen precipitation changed to liquid in central Arkansas, snow absorbed water and became a heavy slush. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), an awning at a gas station collapsed under the weight of the slush, as did a carport at an apartment complex. Some flooding occurred locally as well.

 

A weaker system headed through Texas to areas along the Gulf Coast, and produced light snow in southwest Arkansas on February 11th/12th. Snowfall from January 28-February 12, 2010.
In the picture: Snowfall from January 28-February 12, 2010.

 

More Information
 
There is more concerning snow/cold from January through March, 2010. To check out the rest of the story, click here.

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