March 20-21, 2010 Winter Storm

 

Storm Summary

   A late winter upper level low pressure area moved across southern Oklahoma and southern Arkansas Friday night through Sunday, March 19-21, 2010, resulting in a significant snowfall event across the area on the first days of Spring.  Some portions of the area saw record snowfalls, with some totals near 15 inches by the end of the event.

   On Friday, the day before the event, afternoon temperatures climbed into the upper 60s to low 70s over much of the area.  During the night, a strong cold front moved quickly across the area, causing temperatures to drop during the night and through the day Saturday.  Some areas experienced temperature drops of 25 degrees in 3 hours after the front passed.   Showers and thunderstorms on Friday eventually gave way to frozen precipitaiton as temperatures fell below freezing overnight and into Saturday.

  By early Saturday, rain was changing to snow over much of eastern Oklahoma, with rain continuing across northwestern Arkansas.  Moderate snow fell over far northeast Oklahoma, from Osage County to Bartlesville and Nowata.  During the afternoon, the precipitation gradually diminished. 

  Early Saturday evening, as the upper low started moving across the area, precipitation began increasing again and temperatures began to fall.  Sleet and snow began over northwest Arkansas and spread to the west into much of eastern Oklahoma.  During the night, moderate to heavy snow continued over much of northwest Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma and spread to the east.  Sunday morning saw snow spreading into far southeast Oklahoma and western Arkansas.  As the low pressure system intensified on Sunday, bands of heavy snow rotated around to the north or the low and moved across portions of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.  Heavy snowfall rates in excess of 2 inches per hour were observed in some locations.  Strong winds associated with this storm system also created deep drifts of snow.

  The winter storm moved to the east during the day Sunday, with precipitation gradually ending from the west during the late morning over eastern Oklahoma, then over western Arkansas Sunday evening.  Many locations saw the snow change to sleet and then back to rain just prior to precipitation ending. 

  Widespread snowfall totals in excess of 6 inches were observed across a large portion of the region, with much deeper snow drifts.  The highest measured snowfall total was 15.0" at an approximate elevation of 2200 feet on Devils Den Road near Wilson, AR and the highest estimated total was 15.5" in Hogeye, AR (both in Washington County).  All of the snow and sleet lead to many car accidents and created power outages across portions of east central Oklahoma and northwest/west central Arkansas. Despite the amount of snow, warmer temperatures following the storm on March 22 and 23 caused rapid melting, with a large portion of the snow gone by late in the day Monday.

 

Snowfall Total Map

    ...SNOWFALL TOTALS FOR MARCH 20-21 2010 EVENT...
        Eastern Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas
              (Amounts listed in inches)

WILBURTON.........10 3NW WINSLOW........15
3SE WILBURTON.....10 FAYETTEVILLE.......13.5
HODGEN............9.5 3NW DRY FORK.......13
1NW BUNCH.........9 WEST FORK..........12
3N SALLISAW.......8.5 FAYETTEVILLE.......12
MUSKOGEE..........8.5 HINDSVILLE.........12
MIAMI.............8 WEDDINGTON.........12
YANUSH............7 1E FAYETTEVILLE....11
PAWHUSKA..........7 FARMINGTON.........11
PRYOR.............7 STRICKLER..........11
1N BROKEN ARROW...6 TONTITOWN..........10
STRANG............6 5SE FAYETTEVILEE...10
SKEDEE............6 GRAVETTE...........9
NWS TULSA.........5.7 SPRINGDALE.........9
5W PAWNEE.........5 2E ODELL...........8
LENAPAH...........5 FT. SMITH..........7.5
CENTRALIA.........5 2E CENTERTON.......7
2NNW BIXBY........5 6N CASS............7
3S CATOOSA........5 2S KINGSTON........7
STIGLER...........5 2WSW HARTFORD......6.8
MCALESTER.........5 EUREKA SPRINGS.....6
CLAYTON...........5 GARFIELD...........6
6ENE OWASSO.......4 BENTONVILLE........6
HUGO..............1 1W PEA RIDGE.......6
March 20-21 Estimated Snowfall Map  

 

Several new snowfall records were set in Fort Smith, AR from this winter storm
(records began in 1883)
Record Calendar Day snowfall total in MARCH: 5.5" March 21, 2010 previous record 5.0" March 12, 1890
     
Record 2-day snowfall total in MARCH: 7.5" March 20-21, 2010 previous record 5.3" March 11-12, 1968
     
Latest 1" or greater snowfall:

5.5" March 21, 2010 and
7.5" March 20-21, 2010

previous records 3.2" March 17-18, 1891 and 1.7" March 18, 1934
     
Highest monthly snowfall for MARCH: 7.5" March 2010 previous record 5.3" March 1968
 

Visible satellite image of snowfall

 

Satellite imagery  early Saturday evening, 20 March 2010.  Upper level low is indicated by the small red "x" near Wichita Falls Texas. The low was moving to the east as indicated by the white curved arrow.  Moisture was streaming northward into eastern Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas ahead of the upper low.  The area of precipitation just northwest of the red "x" would intensify as it moved over eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas, resulting in the heavy snows.

 

radar loop 

 

3 AM CDT satellite 8 AM CDT satellite 1030 AM CDT satellite 615 PM CDT satellite
3 am CDT March 21 8 am CDT March 21 10:30 am CDT March 21 6:15 pm CDT March 21
Satellite images showing the eastward progression of the low pressure system.  The green shading indicates areas of higher moisture and where the heavier snow bands developed. Click on each for a larger image.

 


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