Climate Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
Storms Woke Up After Record Low Tornado Count
 
The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed strong rotation and a tornado heading into Moore, OK from the west at 321 pm CDT on 05/20/2013.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) showed strong rotation and a tornado heading into Moore, OK from the west at 321 pm CDT on 05/20/2013.
A debris ball quickly grew in the hook echo portion of the storm (where the tornado was located). This indicated that structures were being damaged/destroyed.
In the picture: A debris ball quickly grew in the hook echo portion of the storm (where the tornado was located). This indicated that structures were being damaged/destroyed. For a closer look (from southwest to northeast) at the vertical extent of the debris ball (more than 20,000 feet), click here.
 

The severe weather season went from quiet to quite active overnight. From May 15th through the 20th, numerous tornadoes were spawned from the upper Midwest into the Plains.

On the 15th/16th, at least 22 tornadoes cut across northern Texas and northwest Louisiana from the Fort Worth, TX area to Shreveport, LA. One of the tornadoes (rated EF4) claimed six lives near Granbury, TX.

 

 

On the 18th/19th, the first tornadoes in 359 days were tallied in Iowa. Powerful tornadoes (rated EF4) swept through rural Rozel, KS and the north side of Shawnee, OK. The latter tornado caused 2 deaths.

 

A Busy May
In 2013, around 200 tornadoes were confirmed nationwide through April. There were at least 200 reports of tornadoes in May.

 

On the 20th, the biggest tornado of them all widened rapidly just west of Moore, OK and tore through town. Neighborhoods were flattened and became unrecognizable. Winds swirling around the tornado (rated EF5) were estimated over 200 mph. At least 24 people were killed. It was perhaps the worst tornado disaster since the Joplin, MO tornado in May, 2011.

 

 

A tornado was witnessed near Oden (Montgomery County) during the afternoon of 05/30/2013.

During the last week of May, there were tornadoes nearly every day to the north/west of the region. By the time the 30th/31st rolled around, there was a severe weather outbreak closer to home. The Little Rock County Warning Area was affected by 14 tornadoes.

In the picture: A tornado was witnessed near Oden (Montgomery County) during the afternoon of 05/30/2013. The photo is courtesy of Barbara Klutts.. Click to enlarge.

 

 

Before this onslaught of storms, tornadoes were noticeably absent. In Arkansas, for example, only 12 tornadoes were counted this year through April. Last year, there was a grand total of 18 tornadoes (33 is normal).

 

Tornadoes in Arkansas (May, 2012 to April, 2013)
According to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, Arkansas has an average of 33 tornadoes per year. This is based on data from 1981 to 2010. In the twelve month period from May, 2012 to April, 2013, there were only 20 tornadoes (61% of normal).

 

Across the country, there were roughly 197 tornadoes rated EF1 or higher from May, 2012 through April, 2013. Since 1954, there had not been a tornado count as low in a twelve (consecutive) month period. The next lowest total was 247 tornadoes from June, 1991 to May, 1992.

 

 

Drought conditions were widespread as of 08/21/2012.
In the picture: Drought conditions were widespread as of 08/21/2012.
 

Why did tornadoes become less frequent? In Arkansas, for example, a drought set in during severe weather season in 2012 and continued into the summer. It was the driest April through July on record across the state. Drought eventually became a national problem. By late August, the drought encompassed a little more than 1,800 counties in 38 states. There was not much rain, and a lack of storms. Given fewer storms, the potential for tornadoes was minimal.

 

Driest April Through July Periods in Arkansas (Statewide Averages)
Year Amount
2012 9.03"
1896 10.75"
1901 10.78"
1926 11.30"
1936 11.62"
1925 11.68"
1914 11.70"
1934 11.71"
1998 11.96"
1988 12.13"

 

It was a Top 10 cool March in much of the southeast United States.
In the picture: It was a Top 10 cool March in much of the southeast United States. The graphic is courtesy of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, NC.
 

In 2013, when it was supposed to warm up in spring, it didn't. It was a near record cool March in the southeast United States. This is typically where severe storms are most common this time of year. Given a lack of warm air and moisture, the atmosphere struggled to become unstable enough to support thunderstorm development. 

In March and April locally, 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

 


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